Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
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In order to be able to access the safe deposit box, you will have to get an order from a judge telling the bank to give you access. In order to do that, you will have to file a probate case in the local probate court where mother lived so you can be named Executor of the estate. You would then have the authority to gather all the estate assets, including any safe deposit box contents. Then you would be responsible for paying any debts or bills of mother, filing any taxes, and then distributing any surplus assets to the beneficiaries of her will, which would be you.