Do I have to be an attorney to find out what is in a safe deposit box? Or find out how much in stocks was owned by a deceased?

Asked almost 2 years ago - Clearwater, FL

in Florida for there is no beneficiary on either of these items, but everything else. I do know there wasn't much in either the box or the stocks, and I need to determine if it is worth the expense to hire an attorney to open the box or find out about the stocks. If it turns out to be less than the cost of an attorney then why would I want to do this? As of now, I cannot even find out the amount of these potential assets.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Marcos P Martinez

    Contributor Level 13

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You will not be able to get access to financial records or a safety deposit box without the proper legal authority. Generally, this means that you are named as the personal representative of the estate. Once you are so named, the "letters of administration" will be all the authority that you will require. You do not "necessarily" need an attorney to do this, though it is in your best interest to do so. This is particularly true when you consider that such costs are generally borne by the estate.

    Without the property legal authority, it is very unlikely that these institutions will discuss the accounts with you at all, much less discuss the amount.

    marcos@martinezanda.com Office tel: (561)245-4723 Website: www.martinezanda.com. The answer provided does not... more
  2. Lee R. Carr II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 9

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Your relationship to the decedent is important here. Upon satisfactory proof of death (death certificate) Florida's banking statutes shall allow initial access to a decedent's safe deposit boxes by a person without a court order but who is a spouse, a parent, an adult descendant, or a person named as personal representative in a purported will. If you qualify as one of these persons, you will not be permitted to remove all property from the box but only to inventory the box and remove a will, certain deeds, and some insurance policies. See link to Florida Statute 655.935 for details. After you determine what is contained, then you'll know whether it is cost effective.

    The answer provided does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor is the answer provided intended to be... more
  3. Joseph Franklin Pippen Jr.

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Attorney Carr has given you a great answer.
    I often give clients a copy of the statute to take with them to the bank to allow access
    to the safe deposit box to discover the contents of the box.

    Attorney Joe Pippen
    Pinellas County-7270586-3306

    The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of... more

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