A safe deposit box reduces the risk of loss resulting from theft, fire or flood. If you have a trust, the assets or documents in the safe deposit box might be items named in your trust. While it isn't uncommon for safe deposit boxes to be held in personal names with the trust designating the assets within the box, the proper way to ensure there is no conflict between the trust and the estate is to name the trust as the safe deposit box owner.
Go to the bank that is most conveniently located for you to access the box. Boxes cannot be transferred, so be sure it is close to home or work or an area you frequent, such as near your local grocery store.
Ask the new account representative about opening a new trust safe deposit box. If you have other accounts with the bank, you may qualify for a discount or a free standard size box. Confirm that you are able to name the trust as the owner.
Provide the new account representative with your trust as well as your identification; the trust documents also should have the trust tax identification number. You must be the named trustee in the trust. If more than one trustee is named, all will be listed on the safe deposit box.
Sign the required forms, including signature cards for the safe deposit box. Visit the box, and make sure the keys work.
Place desired items in the box at this time or return later with the items you wish to store.
When the trust is named as the owner of the safe deposit box, the trustees have access to the box. If the original trustee dies, the successor trustee as named in the trust has immediate access to the box once a death certificate is presented.
Titling the box under your personal name and not the trust can create a probate issue. The probate courts may require the items in the personal box to be reviewed under probate to determine if they are qualified as trust assets or not. This is why naming the trust as the owner is the best move.
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