FAQ: Tax Deed Interpleaders

Q: What is the best way for our office go about turning over our tax deed files to your firm for review?

A: Your office can turn over the files that you would like for us to review in whatever format is easiest for your office to deliver. The fastest and most efficient way to receive tax deed surplus files for review is via email or Dropbox. Should your office not have the capability to send files to us electronically, please contact us to make other arrangements. In addition to sending the tax deed files themselves including claims received, if your office maintains a spreadsheet regarding tax deed surpluses being held by the Clerk, it would be helpful for our firm to have a copy of this document as well. If your county maintains tax deed files electronically with public access to the documents, we would simply need instruction on which files you would like for us to review, along with copies of any documents that may not have been made available for public viewing, such as checks paid from the surplus.

Q: Do we need to be concerned about our office incurring legal fees for contacting your firm to inquire about tax deed surpluses?

A: Not at all! Our firm will not charge your office directly for any legal fees associated with reviewing tax deed surplus claims or filing interpleader actions. Our firm reviews surplus claims and issues memorandums at no cost to your office, regardless of whether interpleader is recommended. We also pay up front for costs including filing fees (if applicable), service of process fees, and fees for updated title reports associated with interpleader actions. Any costs and fees incurred related to an interpleader action will be recovered from the surplus at the conclusion of the interpleader case by our firm pursuant to the Florida Statues.

Q: If a party is making a claim for surplus funds and has a question regarding their claim, should the Clerk’s office address this inquiry, or will your firm handle this?

A: Once a tax deed file has been referred to our firm, you may direct questions from potential claimants to our firm. We will provide you with several points of contact within the firm that your office may utilize for this purpose.

Q: What is the purpose of a title report (O&E report) with respect to tax deed files, and why would the firm need an updated title report in order to evaluate a claim or file an interpleader?

A: If our firm is evaluating claims for legal sufficiency in order to provide your office with memorandums recommending whether surplus claims should be paid, it is vitally important to have an O&E through at least the date of the tax deed sale for this purpose. This potentially prevents improper payouts to claimants that could cause liability for your office. For example, if there is an out of date report that does not reflect any liens, and the former owner makes a claim and it is paid, but there was a lien recorded after the initial O&E that is not reflected in the title work that was recorded prior to the tax deed sale, the clerk risks paying out a claimant improperly in this circumstance. In this way, having an O&E that runs through the sale date ensures the clerk can properly evaluate the claims for the surplus. For cases in which our firm will be filing an interpleader, it is also important to have an O&E that is current to be sure we are naming the proper defendants. For example, if there was a lien at the time of the tax deed sale for which a satisfaction of lien was later recorded, we would not need to name that lienholder as a defendant in the interpleader complaint.

Q: Does your firm order updated O&E reports, or is this something our office will need to obtain for your firm? Does our office need to pay your firm for this expense?

A: Our firm can order the necessary updated O&E reports on behalf of your office. However, if you have a point of contact and/or a company that your county utilizes for the initial and/or updated O&E reports, we would appreciate you providing our firm with this information at your earliest convenience in order to expedite the processing of your tax deed files. If for any reason your office prefers to order these updates directly, kindly inform us of this preference and we will gladly accommodate your preferences. Our firm will pay this expense initially, and it can be later recovered from the surplus through the interpleader process.

Q: What will your firm need from our office in order to proceed with filing an interpleader action for a particular tax deed?

A: We will need the full tax deed surplus file, copies of any and all claims made for the surplus, an up to date O&E report, and copies of any checks that may have been paid from the surplus for claims initially to evaluate the file. In order to fully draft the complaint and the affidavit of your office regarding the surplus balance, we will also need the name and title of the individual within your office who will execute an affidavit that accompanies the complaint as to the tax deed sale and the current surplus balance. We will also of course need points of contact for your office whom you would like for us to communicate regarding outstanding claims, memorandums, review of complaints for interpleader, and execution of affidavits.

Q: Is interpleader required for surpluses with a low balance?

A: No, it is not. If the surplus balance remaining for a particular tax deed is not sufficient to cover the expense of filing an interpleader action, including of course filing fees, service of process, etc., the Florida Statutes do not require the Clerk to file an interpleader in this circumstance, and the Clerk is permitted to escheat these funds to the state after the prescribed period. If your office has specific questions regarding this, click here to contact us.

Q: Does your firm offer legal services outside of tax deed surplus review and interpleader?

A: Yes! We are pleased to offer our services in advising your office regarding any other legal issues that may arise that are unrelated to tax deed surplus administration. We offer these services at the hourly rates set forth in your representation agreement, and are more than happy to help you with these issues at any time upon request. Click here to learn more about our attorneys.

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