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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?

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. 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 create an attorney-client relationship, nor is the answer provided intended to be relied upon as legal advice. The information provided by the questioner is insufficient to serve as the basis for meaningful legal analysis. It is the questioner's responsibility to seek legal advice from an attorney who has had the opportunity to familiarize herself with the full details of the questioner's case. By providing these answers, I am not obligated to respond to any subsequent communication from the questioner. If the questioner would like me to serve as their legal counsel and render legal advice, they will have to sign a retainer agreement. The questioner is free to contact my office for a complimentary 30 minute consultation.


  2. 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 relied upon as legal advice. The information provided by the questioner is insufficient to serve as the basis for meaningful legal analysis. It is the questioner's responsibility to seek legal advice from an attorney who has had the opportunity to be familiarized with the full details of the questioner's case. By providing these answers, I am not obligated to respond to any subsequent communication from the questioner. If the questioner would like me to serve as their legal counsel and render legal advice, they will have to sign a retainer agreement.


  3. 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 action is to have legal representation in this matter.

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