Nebraska Revised Statute 30-2409.01

Chapter 30 Section 2409.01

30-2409.01.

Access to safe deposit box; custodian; duties; expenses; affidavit; contents; purported will; how treated; deed to burial plot or burial instructions.

(1) For purposes of this section:

(a) Custodian means a bank, savings and loan association, credit union, or other institution acting as a lessor of a safe deposit box; and

(b) Representative of a custodian means an authorized officer or employee of a custodian.

(2)(a) If a decedent at the time of his or her death was a sole or last surviving joint lessee of a safe deposit box, the custodian shall, prior to notice that a personal representative or special administrator has been appointed for such decedent's estate, allow access to the safe deposit box to determine whether the safe deposit box contains an instrument that appears to be an original will of the decedent, a deed to a burial plot, or burial instructions. The following persons may have such access:

(i) A person who presents an affidavit described in subsection (4) of this section that affiant reasonably believes that he or she is either (A) an heir at law of the decedent, (B) a devisee of the decedent or a person nominated as a personal representative as shown in a photocopy of a will which is attached to such affidavit, or (C) the agent or attorney specifically authorized in writing by a person described in subdivision (2)(a)(i)(A) or (B) of this section; or

(ii) A person who, under the terms of the safe deposit box lease or a power of attorney at the time of the decedent's death, was legally permitted to enter the safe deposit box, unless otherwise provided by the lease or the power of attorney.

(b) If a person described in subdivision (2)(a) of this section desires access to a safe deposit box but does not possess a key to the box, the custodian may open the safe deposit box by any means necessary at the person's request and expense or the custodian may require the person to obtain a court order for the custodian to open the safe deposit box at the requesting person's expense. The custodian shall retain, in a secure location at such person's expense, the contents of the box other than a purported will, deed to a burial plot, and burial instructions. A custodian shall deliver a purported will as described in subdivision (5)(b) of this section. A person described in subdivision (2)(a)(i) of this section may remove a deed to a burial plot and burial instructions that are not part of a purported will pursuant to subdivision (5)(d) of this section, and the custodian shall not prevent the removal. Expenses incurred by a custodian or by the person seeking the documents pursuant to this section shall be considered an estate administration expense.

(3) A representative of the custodian shall be present during the entry of a safe deposit box pursuant to this section.

(4) The affidavit referred to in subdivision (2)(a)(i) of this section shall state:

(a) That the sole or last surviving lessee of a safe deposit box has died and the date of his or her death, and a copy of the death certificate shall be attached;

(b) If the person submitting the affidavit is an attorney or agent of the affiant, that such appointment is for the purpose of accompanying the opening of the safe deposit box. In lieu of this statement, the appointment shall accompany the affidavit; and

(c) That the affiant:

(i)(A) Is an heir at law of the deceased lessee and a description of such person's relationship to the deceased lessee;

(B) Is reasonably thought to be a devisee of the decedent based on the provisions of a will, a photocopy of which is submitted with the affidavit; or

(C) Is reasonably thought to be nominated as personal representative pursuant to the terms of a will, a photocopy of which is submitted with the affidavit;

(ii) Swears or affirms that all statements in the affidavit are true and material and further acknowledges that any false statement may subject the person to penalties relating to perjury under section 28-915; and

(iii) Has no knowledge of an application or petition for the appointment of a personal representative pending or granted in any jurisdiction.

(5)(a) If an instrument purporting to be a will is found in a safe deposit box as the result of an entry pursuant to subsection (2) of this section, the representative of the custodian shall remove the purported will.

(b) The custodian shall mail the purported will by registered or certified mail or deliver the purported will in person to the clerk of the county court of the county in which the decedent was a resident. If the custodian is unable to determine the county of residence of the decedent, the custodian shall mail the purported will by registered or certified mail or deliver the purported will in person to the office of the clerk of the county court of the county in which the safe deposit box is located.

(c) At the request of the person or persons authorized to have access to the safe deposit box under subsection (2) of this section, the representative of the custodian shall copy each purported will of the decedent, at the expense of the requesting person, and shall deliver the copy of each purported will to the person, or if directed by the person, to the person's agent or attorney. In copying any purported will, the representative of the custodian shall not remove any staples or other fastening devices or disassemble the purported will in any way.

(d) If the safe deposit box contains a deed to a burial plot or burial instructions that are not a part of a purported will, the person or persons authorized to have access to the safe deposit box under subsection (2) of this section may remove these instruments or request that the representative of the custodian copy the deed to the burial plot or burial instructions at the expense of the requesting person.

(6) This section does not limit the right of a personal representative or a special administrator for the decedent, or a successor of the decedent pursuant to section 30-24,125, to have access to the safe deposit box as otherwise provided by law.

(7) Unless limited by the safe deposit box lease, a surviving co-lessee of the safe deposit box may continue to enter the safe deposit box notwithstanding the death of the decedent.

(8) A custodian shall not be liable to a person for an action taken pursuant to this section or for a failure to act in accordance with the requirements of this section unless the action or failure to act is shown to have resulted from the custodian's bad faith, gross negligence, or intentional misconduct.