How can friends claim a body.

My friend was murdered and her only living blood relative was arrested and
charged with her murder. Friends are trying to claim her body so we can have a
funeral. No will has been found but we are sure she would have one. How do we
claim her body and track down her will.

Asked on April 8, 2017 under Estate Planning, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You will need authority from the court to claim her body. You will have to apply to the probate court to be named as the "personal representative" for her "estate" (everything left behind by her). While a blood relative could likely claim the body on proof of the relationship, a non-relative will need court authority. You can contact the clerk's office in the probate court to inquire into what you need to do and how to expedite this.
There may be no way to "track down" a will, even if there is one: a will does not have to be filed in advance (before the person passes away) and there is no central registery of unfiled wills. All you can do is look in all the logical places once you have authority from the court to access her home, her safety deposit box, etc. (being appointed personal representative would let you do these things, too); ask her lawyer or accountant, assuming she had such and you can identify them; etc.


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