Safe Deposit Box Lawyers

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Safe deposit boxes are a convenient, private, and safe place to store documents and items that would be difficult to replace.

What Are Common Items Stored in a Safe Deposit Box?

People who want to protect items that they don't want to lose frequently store the following in a safe deposit box: insurance policies, birth and marriage records, deeds and titles, bonds and CDs, and jewelry.

Who Can Access My Safe Deposit Box when I Die?

Some states have laws which permit certain people access to your safe deposit box when you die. Other states require a court order to open a safe deposit box. It is possible that your state allows family members, or a person you name, to oversee your personal matters when you die. If you live in such a state, the person you name may access your box to obtain your will and other relevant documents.

What if I, or Someone Else, Forgets about the Safe Deposit Box?

Many state laws permit a bank to turn over the contents of a safe deposit box to the government when a certain amount of time has passed and the rental fee has not been paid. If you learn that your box was turned over to the government, or you are an heir, and learn of the deceased's box, you may contact your state¿s unclaimed property office.

Can the Government Access My Safe Deposit Box?

Government regulatory or enforcement agencies, from the local to federal level, may obtain a court order if they have "reasonable cause" to believe your box contains illegal, or illegally obtained items. Your safe deposit box, like a bank account, may be "frozen" until a dispute is resolved.

What if My Safe Deposit Box, or its Contents, Is Damaged or Stolen?

Unlike money deposited in accounts, the items deposited in a safe deposit box are not guaranteed by the government. A bank is not responsible for anything that happens to your box, or its contents, unless they are found to have conducted themselves in a negligent manner.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

An attorney experienced in consumer banking laws and regulations can help you gain access to an abandoned safe deposit box. If you believe your box was unfairly frozen, a lawyer may help you regain possession. Should you lose the contents of your safe deposit box, or the contents are destroyed, a lawyer may discuss your legal options.

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Last Modified: 11-14-2011 04:34 PM PST

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