Opening a Safe Deposit Box

Many people keep important documents in a safe deposit box. When someone passes away owning a safe deposit box at a bank, it is important to open the safe deposit box to see if there was a will, trust or instructions for the disposition of the decedent’s remains.

Courtney Writer
November 07, 2018

 

Many people keep important documents in a safe deposit box. When someone passes away owning a safe deposit box at a bank, it is important to open the safe deposit box to see if there was a will, trust or instructions for the disposition of the decedent’s remains.  Even without first being appointed as the executor or administrator of an estate, there is a procedure to open the safe deposit box to see if a will or trust is kept in it and to take an inventory of the contents of the safe deposit box.

 

California Probate Code § 331 allows for a person who has the key to the safe deposit box to obtain access to take an inventory of the contents and to take the original will, trust and instructions for the disposition of the decedent’s remains. This can be done before filing a petition for probate or before letters are issued by the probate court.

 

In order the gain access to the safe deposit box, you must provide the bank with (1) the safe deposit box key; (2) proof of death such as a certified death certificate; and (3) your photo ID.

 

The bank is required to:

(1) keep a record of your identity; 

(2) allow you to open the safe deposit box, under the supervision of a bank employee, and to make an inventory of the contents; 

(3) make a photocopy of all wills and trusts and keep the photocopy in the safe deposit box; 

(4) make a photocopy of any instructions for the disposition of the decedent’s remains and to keep a copy in the safe deposit box; 

(5) allow you to take the original will, trust, and instructions for the disposition of the decedent’s remains.

 

Except for the will, trust, and instructions for the disposition of the decedent’s remains, you may not remove any other items from the safe deposit box.

The original will must be delivered to the clerk of the probate court and mail a copy of the will to the executor and each beneficiary.

About The Author
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Courtney prides herself on excellent customer relations. She treats every client as she would like to be treated and takes on every case as if it was her own. "I want to earn the trust and confidence that my clients place in me," Courtney says. Courtney Writer joined Price Law Firm, APC as an ...

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