Distribution of estate - Florida Intestacy rules

K died intestate leaving her entire estate ( located in England and Wales) to her sister (V) domiciled in Florida.

V died 3 weeks later in Florida, intestate, divorced and without children, siblings or surviving parents.

V’s entire estate was the unadministered estate of K. V had no other assets in Florida or elsewhere.

My client was appointed as administrator under UK Grants to deal with the estates of both K and V.

K’s estate has been finalised and passed to V’s PR.

Although genealogists are satisfied that they have traced all persons entitled to the estate of V under the Florida intestacy rules, no UK insurer (that we have found) is prepared to offer a ‘comfort’ policy for missing beneficiary or missing Will in relation to the distribution of V’s because of the potential US liability the administrator is reluctant to take a risk and distribute without insurance. I understand that insurance is not available in the US either.

Would S.61 Trustee Act 1925 offer any comfort if the administrator chose to distribute? Would the court entertain an application by the administrator under CPR part 64.2 for direction as to the distribution of the estate? If so, does that fact that the estate is to be distributed in accordance with the Florida intestacy rules (albeit we have a UK Grant/administrator) mean that the UK courts have no jurisdiction?

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to proceed from here or have experience of a similar situation? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Sarah Arundel
Taylor Fawcett

Have the genealogists who traced the persons entitled to inherit not found an insurance company for you? I thought this was the norm.

Julian Cohen, Solicitor

Unfortunately in this case (because of the US connection and presumably the litigation culture there) no UK insurer seems willing to insure the risk.
Sarah Arundel
Taylor Fawcett

I am a little surprised at what appears to have happened, as surely V had some assets in Florida even if a bank account only (she may also have been in receipt of Social Security benefits / Florida Pension of some sort). In any event I would seriously consider transferring the assets to the Florida Unclaimed Property Department where the assets can sit until claimed. This will avoid the risk against which insurance is not (apparently) obtainable, and will discharge the PR’s of K and V from further obligations.
I am not a Florida lawyer, but would certainly make enquiries along the lines of publishing the Death of V, and that any claimants must come forward within a time period or the assets will be transferred to the Florida Unclaimed Property Department.
In any event the opinion of a Florida lawyer should be obtained to confirm the above course of action, just as added protection to the PR’s.
Peter Double / Probate Resealing Services

1 Like