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RayAnswers
RayAnswers, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 40993
Experience:  Texas lawyer for 30 years in Estate law
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My mother passed away with no will and her estate was under

Customer Question

My mother passed away with no will and her estate was under $50,000 easily. We were able to sell her older mobile home and 10 year old car. DMV gave us titles transfers with no problem. She had $20,000 in her checking account at one bank. We were able to get this with no problems. She has been gone for almost 6 months now and we get a bill from another bank that she had closed all her accounts on but a safe deposit box. we were willing to pay for the account and also pay $190.00 to have box drilled open because there is no key to be found. Then the banks says they can't do this because they have no way of knowing the value of it's contents. We feel that it may possible be her will. What business is it of theirs as to what is in this box. Now they are telling us that we have to get a legal executor of estate which cost money. I don't understand how they can do this. Is this legal??
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  RayAnswers replied 2 years ago.
Hi and welcome to JA. I am Ray and will be the expert helping you tonight.
Here Virginia law allows next of kin here to open the box and look for a will.You cannot remove anything other than a will.You may try this to ry and avoid a lawyer here.
http://www.fairfaxcommissionerofaccounts.org/open/docs/adminguide.pdf
Then you have to decide whether it is worth a lawyer to make application for court ordered access.Unfortunately these are your option here if only name on the box was the deceased.
Here is law for reference.
§ 6.2-2302. Limited access to safe deposit box upon death of lessee.
A. Upon (i) the death of the sole lessee of a box or (ii) the death of a lessee of a box rented under the name of two or more persons upon proof satisfactory to the company that no then co-lessee is reasonably available for access to the box, the company may permit limited access to the box by the spouse or next of kin of the deceased lessee, a court clerk, or other interested person for the limited purpose of looking for a will or other testamentary instruments.
B. The company may require proof of death as it deems necessary prior to permitting access to a box.
C. Access to a box shall be under the supervision of a designated officer or employee of the company, and nothing shall be removed from the box except the will or testamentary instrument for transmission to the appropriate clerk.
D. The company shall (i) make a photocopy of any document removed from a box pursuant to this section, (ii) place the copy in the box prior to delivering the original to any person, and (iii) not be liable except for acting in bad faith or for permitting the removal from the safe deposit box of items other than the will or other testamentary instrument of the deceased lessee.
(1984, c. 446, § 6.1-332.1; 2002, c. 312; 2003, c. 269; 2010, c. 794.)
Take the law here and request access here under the law to look for a will.The bank employee/officer will have to sit with you and observe.You cannot remove anything other than the will.See if they will agree here to this and see what you find.
If there are assets you would need a local lawyer to make application for a court order to access the box and remove any other assets.
I know this is frustrating but the bank here can limit access where a person deceases and no other person is on the box to have access.
I appreciate the chance to help you tonight.Please let me know if you have more follow up.Thanks again.
Expert:  RayAnswers replied 2 years ago.
As a last resort here if you locate other assets in the safety box here you can use a lawyer for court ordered access..
http://www.vsb.org/vlrs/index.php/public/vlrs/
Lawyer referral.I hope you can access it without the courts to look for a will and see what else is inside and then decide whether it warrants a lawyer.
I do appreciate the chance to help you here.