How can we get access to a deceased’s safety deposit box?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

How can we get access to a deceased’s safety deposit box?

My stepmother (aged 72) died recently. She was living with my 77 year old father although they were legally separated. We have not been able to find a Will (my dad has early dementia and has no idea where anything is, etc). We did find a statement for a safety deposit box but it is only in the deceased name. How can we get access to it since we are stepchildren and not her legal children. Can my dad get access even though they are legally separated? We are asssuming/hoping the will is in the safety deposit box. They do have a 27 year old son together, however he is a heroin addict with a criminal record. Would he be able to access it as her next of kin?

Asked on March 1, 2013 under Estate Planning, Washington

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Accessing a safety deposit box after death is a complicated procedure.  This is why I advise my clients not to put their legal documents in a safety deposit box.

I am sure your state has a procedure for accessing the box and distributing the contents.  It will requre approval from the probate court and you will need a lawyer to assist with this and with distributing the estate.  I do not think your father could access the box without court involvement, but I do not practice in your state.

I doubt that your stepbrother would have legal access to the safety deposit box without court approval, which will likely be denied.  Your father is going to need a lawyer to sort out the estate with or without the safety deposit box.


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 AttorneyPages.com 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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption