How to gain access to bank safe deposit box which contains the will?

Need to access the bank safe deposit box to see who is the personal representative of the estate Deceased step-mother did not list any one else to have access.

Asked on September 25, 2017 under Estate Planning, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You normally can only access the safe deposit box of someone who passed away if you are the named executor (of a will), administrator (if no will) or personal represenative (which is a term some states use for either or both of the executor or administrator--terms may vary by state). The bank cannot let anyone who is not one of the above access the box, since they do not have the legal right to do so. They are offering you a reasonable accommodation to get around this, by having a lawyer (a person who represents you BUT who also has certain ethical and legal duties) look in the box to see who is named. You need to decide if hiring the attorney and any travel is worthwhile for you, but their suggestion is a reasonable one.


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