Don’t Forget Your Safe Deposit Box!

Often, the reason clients will have a living trust is to avoid probate. And, we talk about the need be sure that assets are properly “funded” to the living trust, since assets not in the trust might still have to be probated.

If you hold a safe deposit box as an individual, separate from your living trust, what happens when you die?  No one will have access to your safe deposit box until a probate estate is opened with the probate court, and a personal representative has been appointed. Thus, you will not have avoided probate.

On the other hand, if you hold the safe deposit box in the name of your trust, your successor trustee can access the box and its contents without probate. And, unlike a joint holder of a safe deposit box, your successor trustee is under a fiduciary duty to follow the terms of your trust in managing and distributing your assets, including those in the safe deposit box.