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Is Sister Entitled to Everything in Safe Deposit Box?

Updated: Sep 26, 2019

Attorney Thomas B. Burton answers a reader question from Madison, Wisconsin about a Safe Deposit Box and whether the sister is entitled to all of the proceeds of the safe deposit box, or whether the terms of the Will dictate what happens to the contents of the Safe Deposit Box.

Transcript of Video: Is Sister Entitled to Everything in Safe Deposit Box?

Today's question has to do with a safety

deposit box

that's from Madison Wisconsin the reader

asked my father passed away two weeks

ago he had a Will that stated one

daughter gets $10,000 and the other four

get even shares of his land and assets he

also had a safety deposit box where my

youngest sister was co-owner

we know there is probably a Will and cash

in there since my father's death my

sister is missing in action

in the state of Wisconsin is she entitled

to everything that is in that box so the

short answer is there's a few issues

going on here your father's Will will

determine what happens to anything

without a beneficiary designation so his

probate estate anything that he left a

beneficiary designation like an

insurance policy or even a bank account

if it was payable on death will pass

according to that contract

but in general the Will you said says

one sister gets $10,000 and then it gets

split four ways between the other four

daughters that would dictate everything

that's a probate asset so if for

instance he owned a home and he didn't

have it in a trust that would be a

probate asset you need to get a copy of

the Will to see what it says and make

sure that gets filed with the probate

court in terms of the safety deposit box

if your youngest sister was really a

co-owner she may have access to the box

and may have ownership rights to what's

in the box that would be according to

the contract signed between your father

and the bank if she's just listed as

someone who can access the box after

your father's death then she would be

under a duty to take the property in the

box and give it to whoever is named as

personal representative under the Will

if the Will is in the safety deposit box

she also has a statutory duty to file

that with the probate court if it's the

original Will whoever has

possession should file it with the probate court

so in short you'll need to determine

whether your sister was really a co-owner

of that box or just had access to it and for

the other people watching this is why I

recommend if you use the safety deposit

box to store your estate planning

documents make sure your personal

representative or your trustee under

your Will has access to that box after

your death otherwise I've seen

situations where you have to open a

probate just to get access to the box to

read the Will to see what it says so you

can see where this becomes a chicken and

the egg problem so great question and

thank you.

© 2019 Law Office of Thomas B. Burton. All Rights Reserved.

Transcript and captions provided for ease of access for the hearing impaired.

For questions about this topic, or to suggest a topic for a future blog post, please contact my office.

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