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Estate Planning and Safe Deposit Boxes

When it comes to estate planning, some key steps involve the practical details and potential hazards that may arise in common situations. For example, many people own and use safe deposit boxes to keep valuable items. While safe deposit boxes are often a good idea, they can pose problems during the probate process if you haven’t taken the appropriate steps to ensure the right people can easily access the box after you die. Here are some practical tips you can use to ensure this process goes smoothly.

Access

Safe deposit boxes are an excellent way to keep tangible objects secured and easily accessible. However, if you should die and no one else has access to the box it can be incredibly difficult to obtain the property within it. This may require, for example, the executor of your estate to obtain a court order to allow him or her access to the safe deposit box. As an alternative you might consider allowing someone else to access the box. Though your spouse is a common choice, there is a chance that both of you could die at the same time, so you might consider someone else.

Knowledge

For some people the difficulty with safe deposit boxes is not just who has access to it but also whom you notify that the box exists. Some people prefer having a safe deposit box because of the privacy it allows. If this is the case, you want to make arrangements that will not only allow someone to access the box but will also notify the person at the box exists should something happen to you. Informing your attorney that you own the box and asking the attorney to notify your estate executor is one possible option.

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