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

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 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.

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 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.

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