- The executor or administrator of the estate has complete access and may even remove contents of the box without creating an inventory, unless a court has entered an order otherwise.
- In order to search for a will, any writing about a burial plot, or life insurance policies, the bank must give access to the box to a spouse, parent, adult sibling or adult descendant.
- The bank also has to allow anyone who is named as executor in a copy of the will to search the box.
In the second two situations, where the access is allowed to look for a will, burial plot information or life insurance, the bank must make an inventory of everything that is removed from the bank.
This does raise the question whether original wills should be stored in a safe deposit box. I often advise families that a safe deposit box is not necessary. A desk, fire proof file box, or even a zip lock bag in your freezer are all perfectly fine ways to store the original of a will or other important papers.