INTRO: In Part One of this series, we discussed how when handling a trust administration for two brothers whose parents had died, an issue arose about the parents’ safe deposit box. What happens if your trust owns the box? Here is Rob’s answer.
Other somewhat convoluted rules give certain access and control upon your death to a person who presents a key to the box. These rules are also subject to potential abuse and can create logistical problems.
Many of the above-referenced potential problems can be mitigated by having your revocable living trust own (i.e. rent) the box. If your living trust is the box owner, your named successor trustee will only have access to and control over the box when necessary and authorized by you (e.g. upon your incapacity, your resignation as trustee of your trust or your death). The successor trustee has a fiduciary duty to preserve, protect and distribute your property (including the contents of the box) in accordance with your wishes, as set forth in the trust.
If your trust owns the box, whoever is serving as your trustee at any given time can simply present the institution with a proper trust certification attesting to that fact. He or she will then be given full access to the box, without legal obstacles or the risks associated with owning the box in your own name(s) or with one or more co-owners.
Finally, however remote the risk is of loss or damage, the contents of a box are not insured by the financial institution or FDIC. Check with your insurance agent to ensure that you have applicable insurance coverage for the contents. Think hard about what items are best kept in the box vs. storing elsewhere. Finally, inventory whatever items you store in the box and keep copies of documents stored there. Taking photos or a video of the items in the box is also wise.
This article is intended to provide information of a general nature, and should not be relied upon as legal, tax, financial and/or business advice. Readers should obtain and rely upon specific advice only from their own qualified professional advisors. This communication is not intended or written to be used, for the purpose of: i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code; or ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any matters addressed herein.
ESTATE & TRUST ADMINISTRATION: Need to find an experienced estate & trust administrator in Walnut Creek CA? Contact Robert Silverman at 925-705-4474 for legal advice on a Revocable Living Trust, “Summary” Estate Administration, Trust/Estate Beneficiary Representation and Will & Trust Disputes.