Sunday, January 13, 2008

How to Open Someone's Safe Deposit Box


A safe deposit box provides secure storage for valuables like jewelry, family heirlooms, wills and property deeds. Both the bank that provides the box and the state where it is located have rules regarding accessibility. Read this article to learn more about these policies and how to pursue an exception when you need to access to someone else's safe deposit box.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You'll Need

  • Photo identification
  • Documentation authorizing your access
  • Key (optional)
  • Death certificate and executor testament



Step One

To get regular access to someone else's safe deposit box, rent the box jointly. Both renters will have unrestricted access to the box.

Step Two

Get appointed as a deputy or agent with access to the safe deposit box. The renter and a bank agent must be present when you are deputized. Keep in mind that the renter can revoke your deputy status at any time.

Step Three

Know what documentation the bank requires you to provide in order to gain access to the box. For example, a photo identification and the rental agreement or deputy form that proves your level of access. To request access to a deceased person's safe deposit box, include a death certificate and executor testament.

Step Four

Check your state's regulations about access to the box of a deceased relative. Different states have different laws about access, such as allowing access immediately after death to claim burial information like a deed to a burial plot.

Step Five

Contact your state's unclaimed property office to ask if a deceased relative left behind a safe deposit box. If you are an heir, you have the right to claim the value of the box contents.

Tips & Warnings

  • A husband or wife has unrestricted access to the other's safe deposit box upon the death of the spouse.
  • Having a key or power of attorney is not enough to get access to someone else's box.

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