Sometimes an heir to a decedent’s Miami estate cannot be located. The decedent and other family members may not have remained in close touch. If the decedent retired and away from other family members, it may be difficult for the personal representative of the decedent’s estate to find a missing heir after the decedent passes away. Typically the personal representative will hire a Miami probate and estate attorney to assist with locating a missing heir and making sure that the executor complies with all the requirements set forth in Florida Statute 733.816 regarding unclaimed estate property.

The law requires that the attorney or personal representative of the estate make a diligent effort to try and locate the missing heir. The attorney may use the services of a genealogist or a private investigative firm that specializes in locating missing heirs. Notice requirements under the statute must be complied with as well.

The estate can still be administered through a formal probate process filed with the Miami-Dade probate court. Once all efforts have been made to locate the missing heir or an heir refuses to accept the inheritance, then the court will order that the inheritance proceeds be placed with the Miami-Dade Clerk of Court and disposed of in the following manner:

When funds are less than $500, the Clerk must post a notice at the courthouse door with the name of the personal representative, the amount of the inheritance and other information that may be of interest to parties that may have an interest tin the estate.

For funds over $500, the Clerk must publish the notice once a month for two consecutive months in a newspaper of general circulation in Miami-Dade County.

After the expiration of six months, the funds are then placed by the Clerk with the State of Florida Chief Financial officer less any fees and costs of publication.

The Chief Financial Officer holds the funds in the State School Fund account for 10 years. If the party entitled to claim the funds does not claim them within the 10 year period, then the property escheats to the State of Florida and permanently becomes part of the State’s School Fund, together with any and all accrued interest.

If you think you are a missing heir and have a claim to a Miami estate, or you are a personal representative of a Miami estate and need help finding a missing heir, you should contact a Miami probate and estate attorney to help you. The attorney can advise you of the best way to handle your situation. The attorney can also assist with other estate matters.

If you wish to speak to a Miami estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (786) 522-1411.