How can friends claim a body.

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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