Safe Deposit Boxes - Death of Renter

Posted By: Liz F

Safe Deposit Boxes - Death of Renter - 06/25/01 02:34 PM

Our state has recently enacted a law that no longer requires an inventory of a safe deposit box upon the death of the renter, nor is a tax release needed from the tax commissioner before access is permitted. Does anyone have procedures for this situation - who can access the box? what must they show to prove authority to access? what can they take? should the bank still inventory the contents?
Posted By: La. Lady

Re: Safe Deposit Boxes - Death of Renter - 06/25/01 06:54 PM

Beth, our bank has a Safety Deposit Box Operation Manual. Our state does not require an inventory to be taken of the box, under a succession. The succession is required to close a box, however, we have found that it is wise to continue doing so.

However,if the renter dies, and I am assuming that there are no survivors, it would seem prudent to get court orders.

Our policy states that 2 bank representative employees (one of which is a bank officer) must be present during the box entry and only the items that the court order specifies can be removed from the box.

Of course, there are different requirements and or stipulations regarding who can enter the baox when they are jointly held, Partnership boxes, corporate boxes, business boxes (such as churches or civic clubs) etc.

I'm not sure if this helps, but this is our method. I think that just because your state no longer requires inventory, it does not mean that you can't perform it.

Hope someone else out there can give you more insight.

Posted By: John Burnett

Re: Safe Deposit Boxes - Death of Renter - 06/25/01 08:24 PM

Massachusetts also does not require a tax sign off, etc.

The representative of the estate of the last owner is permitted to access the box upon presentation of a death certificate and appointment as executor or administrator. The box may, or may not, be closed at that time, since the estate may have a need for the box for a while.

Often, we're asked to permit a will search, since many people still keep wills in safe deposit boxes, notwithstanding good advice to the contrary. In these cases, the estate's representative hasn't yet been appointed. We allow a family member or attorney who is likely to have been named executor in a will to do a search under a bank officer's scrutiny, upon presentation of a death certificate. Nothing can be removed except a will, if there is one there. If the will names the person opening the box with us, we deliver the will to him/her and get a receipt. If the will names someone else, we keep the will and forward it directly to the Probate Court for filing and notification. Everything is attested to by a notary to cover the bank and others involved. In these cases, the box is not closed out (unless emptly, which is also noted by the notary).

Posted By: Liz F

Re: Safe Deposit Boxes - Death of Renter - 06/26/01 12:54 PM

Thank you both for the info. John, when the representative of the estate closes the box, do you have bank officer(s) present and do an inventory?
Posted By: John Burnett

Re: Safe Deposit Boxes - Death of Renter - 06/26/01 08:04 PM

We don't have an inventory done at close if the box is being accessed and closed by a bone fide estate representative. We believe they have to be provided the same level of privacy as our "live" customer was. We do make very sure we have documentation of the appointment, ID, etc.

[This message has been edited by John Burnett (edited 06-26-2001).]