For the most current Florida statute information, please visit the Florida Senate website.
Types of unclaimed monies:
43.19 | 45.032 | 733.816 | 744.534 | 116.21 | 717 | Probate Court Registry
Helpful hints on how can you avoid having monies considered unclaimed or abandoned:
- Make sure that your address is up-to-date with the United States Postal Service and the Clerk's office.
- If money has been deposited in a case in which you are involved, make sure that you obtain an order disbursing those funds before the case is closed or dismissed, or include the disbursement order in your final judgment.
- Follow up on any motions filed asking for money to be disbursed to see if a hearing needs to be set, or if all procedures were properly followed.
- For child support cases, make sure that the Clerk has your current address on file. There is a form for this on our website and it should be filed with the clerk at:
Civil Court Records, 315 Court St., Room 170, Clearwater FL 33756.
- If you hold a monetary judgment against another party in a civil case, you can re-record that judgment along with an affidavit of current address if you change your address. If the judgment is satisfied through the Clerk’s office, we can then contact you to let you know we have your funds.
- In Mortgage Foreclosure cases, if there are surplus monies remaining after the sale and all lien holders who have filed a timely claim have been paid, the person who was the owner of the foreclosed property as of the date of filing of the Lis Pendens (usually the same as the case filing date) is entitled to those monies. Detailed information for filing a claim can be found in our Mortgage Foreclosures section.
- You can monitor your case online through the Clerk’s website. The docket for your case will list any pleadings filed, as well as deposits made and checks issued. You may not receive a notice when money is deposited, so check your case docket online to see if funds have been deposited.
Types of Unclaimed Funds
Unclaimed monies deposited by court order or by statute into court registry and money has remained on deposit for 5 years or more unclaimed by the person, firm or corporation entitled to the money.
- If a civil case has been closed, and funds are left in the court registry for that case for more than five years, Florida Statute 43.19 directs the Clerk to consider them unclaimed and to deposit them with the Chief Financial Officer to the credit of the State School Fund. This is done on or before December 1st of each year through a single Court Order with an attached list detailing each case and the amount being submitted. Once sent to the State, these funds can still be claimed from the State, by following the instructions below, with no time limit.
- Once funds have been sent to the State under Florida Statute 43.19, the customer must call the State Bureau of Unclaimed Property to locate their funds and make a claim. The toll-free number to call for these funds is (888) 258-2253, ask to speak to someone regarding the Chapter 43.19 funds to be given instructions regarding submitting a claim form, and other required documentation. The money is deposited using the Pinellas County case number as its reference number. These funds cannot be located through the searchable database at the State’s Unclaimed Property website.
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Unclaimed funds held by Personal Representative that cannot be distributed or paid because of inability to find lawful owner or because no lawful owner is known or because lawful owner refuses to accept property after a reasonable attempt to distribute it and after notice to that lawful owner.
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Unclaimed funds held by Guardian which cannot be distributed because no estate proceeding has been instituted.
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Probate Court Registry
A Petition and signed Order Depositing Unclaimed Funds are needed to deposit money into the Court Registry.
If the case is an Estate and the amount of the deposit is over $500.00 or if it is a Guardianship and the amount is over $100.00, a “Notice to Deposit Unclaimed Funds” will be completed and mailed to the Gulf Coast Business Review for publishing. The cost for publishing the Notice is currently $100 and this fee is paid from the funds that were deposited into the Court Registry. The Notice is published once a month for 2 consecutive months.
If this is an Estate and the amount of the deposit is $500.00 or less or if it is a Guardianship and the amount is $100.00 or less, the “Notice to Deposit Unclaimed Funds” will not get published in the newspaper, but will get posted in the lobby of the Clearwater Courthouse for 30 days.
Once time has expired – six months from the first date of publication in the newspaper or after 30 days of posting in the Courthouse lobby – the funds will be disbursed from the Registry using one of two methods. The funds will either be released to the State Comptroller’s Office in Tallahassee or to a specific person outlined in a Petition and Order to Release Unclaimed Funds signed by a Judge. If funds are released by a Court Order to a beneficiary and interest has accumulated on these funds, a completed W-9 Tax Form is needed from the beneficiary before the interest can be released. The name on the W-9 form has to match the name listed on the Court Order Releasing Unclaimed Funds.
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Unclaimed monies; any unclaimed money collected or deposited by the Clerk in the course of the Clerk's court related activities prior to January 1 of preceeding year.
Identified monies: with case number and/or defendant's name.
Types of funds that fall under 116.21
Appeal bonds - not ordered into Court Registry
Cash bonds - not ordered into Court Registry
Child Support money returned
Overpayment of fines and court fees
- Child support money that is included on the 116.21 list can be claimed through the Clerk’s Office by filing a Change of Address form, or by court order. Claims for civil bonds included on the 116.21 list must be made to the Clerk and will generally require a court order to be released. The most common civil bond included in this report is the Non-Resident Cost Bond (deposited under Florida Statute 57.011. Staledated or returned refund checks can be claimed by submitting a written request to the Clerk to reissue the check.
- Child Support checks issued by the State Disbursement Unit that have been returned by the post office, or have never been cashed by the recipient, are considered unclaimed underFlorida Statute 116.21 and are turned over to the fine and forfeiture fund of the county. Certain types of civil cash bonds also fall into this category of unclaimed funds, as well as refund checks returned by the post office or staledated (checks that were sent but never cashed). Annually, in July, the Clerk publishes a listing of all the cases with monies falling into this category. The deadline is September 1st of that year to claim these funds, or they will be forfeited.
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Chapter 717, Florida Statutes, is The Florida Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act. Virtually every business organization from non-profits to Fortune 500 corporations to governmental agencies has some form of unclaimed property in their possession and is considered a "Holder" of unclaimed property.
Unclaimed property is primarily an intangible property liability that has been inactive on the books of an entity for a period of time (dormancy period), and for which there has been no owner generated activity. The intangible property liability does not become unclaimed property until it reaches the end of the required dormancy period as provided by law.
All claims must be received by April 1st of the current year. Claims must be made in writing and must include your signature and identifying information matching the name or business name on the property. Mortgage Foreclosure Cases – Require a court order.
Per Section 28.24(8) of the Florida Statutes a $4.00 processing fee may be assessed and deducted from your check.
45.032 is covered by 717 and is mortgage foreclosure surplus monies not disbursed by surplus trustee.
- If surplus funds remain in the court registry after a Mortgage Foreclosure sale and no claim for these funds has been received within 60 days from the Certificate of Disbursement date, the Clerk follows specific steps outlined in Florida Statute 45.032 to appoint a Surplus Trustee to locate the owner(s) of these funds. The Surplus Trustee is selected and approved by the State. That Trustee is then entitled to receive a fixed percentage of the surplus funds if he successfully locates the owner, and obtains a court order disbursing the surplus funds to that owner. If the Trustee is unable to locate the owner after a year, the Clerk terminates the Trustee and turns the funds over to the State as unclaimed under Florida Statute 717.117. Once sent to the State, these funds can still be claimed from the State, by following the instructions below, with no time limit.
- Each year, the Clerk prepares a listing of any Mortgage Foreclosure surplus cases in which the surplus trustee was terminated during the preceding calendar year and surplus funds remain in the case. The 717.117 report must be filed with the State by May 1st. The funds are reported by case number and by homeowner name. Once the funds have been sent to the State, they can be located by searching Florida’s Unclaimed Property database at their website, www.fltreasurehunt.org. The website also gives instructions for claiming these funds.
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