Safety Deposit Boxes and Your Estate

Should I put my Will in my safety deposit box? That is a frequently asked question by many clients of mine. We have a large vault at our office and always recommend to clients that they let us keep their original Wills in our vault for safekeeping. We give them blank copies and file a Wills Notice registering the location of our client’s Wills with the Vital Statistics Agency in Victoria. It is very easy for an Executor to come in and meet with us, the lawyer for the deceased, pick up the Will (with death certificate and appropriate ID) and gather some Estate information/assistance from us. Nobody can go into the deceased’s safety deposit box except for the Executor, but you don’t know who the Executor is until you open the box and read the Will, which can sometimes make things difficult.

If the deceased does have a safety deposit box, the Executor will need to make an appointment with the bank, again taking the death certificate and appropriate ID to gain access to the box. The bank will likely open the box in the presence of a bank staff member who acts as a witness. As Executor you will carefully need to list all the contents of the box, in front of the bank staff member.

Once that is done, make sure that you change the ownership of the box to the deceased’s estate so that you can easily access it at a later date if need be. You can close the box if you wish but sometimes Executor’s like to keep it open for the deceased’s valuables/personal papers while the Estate is ongoing – after all, one of the Executor’s duties is to keep Estate valuables safe. Remember, if items go missing, the Executor can be personally responsible for them.

This is provided as information ONLY; it should NOT be construed as legal advice. You should consult with a lawyer to provide you with specific advice for your own situation. For more information on Estate Planning and to discuss your specific circumstances, please contact Vanessa DeDominicis on 250-869-1140 or [email protected]  Vanessa practices in the area of Real Estate and Wills/Estates at Pushor Mitchell LLP in Kelowna and would be more than happy to assist you!

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