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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

55.10 LIABILITY; EXEMPTIONS.
    Subdivision 1. Permitting access, removal, or delivery. When a safe deposit box shall have
been hired from any licensed safe deposit company in the name of two or more persons, including
husband and wife, with the right of access being given to either, or with access to either or the
survivor or survivors of the person, or property is held for safekeeping by any licensed safe
deposit company for two or more persons, including husband and wife, with the right of delivery
being given to either, or with the right of delivery to either of the survivor or survivors of these
persons, any one or more of these persons, whether the other or others be living or not, shall have
the right of access to the safe deposit box and the right to remove all, or any part, of the contents
thereof, or to have delivered to all or any one of them, or any part of the valuable personal
property so held for safekeeping; and, in case of this access, removal, or delivery, the safe deposit
company shall be exempt from any liability for permitting the access, removal, or delivery.
    Subd. 2.[Repealed, 1Sp1985 c 14 art 13 s 14]
    Subd. 3. Access granted to agents, government officers. No safe deposit company shall be
liable to any person by reason of having permitted access to a safe deposit box to an authorized
agent of the tenant of such box, after the death of such tenant, until actual notice of such death has
been received by the safe deposit company, nor shall any such company be liable to any person
because of having granted access to any safe deposit box to any state or federal officer acting
under authority of an order of any court of general jurisdiction.
    Subd. 4. Will searches, burial documents procurement, and inventory of contents.
(a) Upon being furnished with satisfactory proof of death of a sole lessee or the last surviving
co-lessee of a safe deposit box, an employee of the safe deposit company shall open the box and
examine the contents in the presence of an individual who appears in person and furnishes an
affidavit stating that the individual believes:
(1) the box may contain the will or deed to a burial lot or a document containing instructions
for the burial of the lessee or that the box may contain property belonging to the estate of the
lessee; and
(2) the individual is an interested person as defined in this section and wishes to open the box
for any one or more of the following purposes:
(i) to conduct a will search;
(ii) to obtain a document required to facilitate the lessee's wishes regarding body, funeral,
or burial arrangements; or
(iii) to obtain an inventory of the contents of the box.
(b) The safe deposit company may not open the box under this section if it has received a
copy of letters of office of the representative of the deceased lessee's estate or other applicable
court order.
(c) The safe deposit company need not open the box if:
(1) the box has previously been opened under this section for the same purpose;
(2) the safe deposit company has received notice of a written or oral objection from any
person or has reason to believe that there would be an objection; or
(3) the lessee's key or combination is not available.
(d) For purposes of this section, the term "interested person" means any of the following:
(1) a person named as personal representative in a purported will of the lessee;
(2) a person who immediately prior to the death of the lessee had the right of access to
the box as a deputy;
(3) the surviving spouse of the lessee;
(4) a devisee of the lessee;
(5) an heir of the lessee;
(6) a person designated by the lessee in a writing acceptable to the safe deposit company
which is filed with the safe deposit company before death; or
(7) a state or county agency with a claim authorized by section 256B.15.
(e) For purposes of this section, the term "will" includes a will or a codicil.
(f) If the box is opened for the purpose of conducting a will search, the safe deposit company
shall remove any document that appears to be a will and make a true and correct machine copy
thereof, replace the copy in the box, and then deliver the original thereof to the clerk of court
for the county in which the lessee resided immediately before the lessee's death, if known to the
safe deposit company, otherwise to the clerk of the court for the county in which the safe deposit
box is located. The will must be personally delivered or sent by registered mail. If the interested
person so requests, any deed to burial lot or document containing instructions for the burial
of the lessee may be copied by the safe deposit box company and the copy or copies thereof
delivered to the interested person.
(g) If the box is opened for the purpose of obtaining a document required to facilitate the
lessee's wishes regarding the body, funeral, or burial arrangements, any such document may be
removed from the box and delivered to the interested person with a true and correct machine copy
retained in the box. If the safe deposit box company discovers a document that appears to be a
will, the safe deposit company shall act in accordance with paragraph (f).
(h) If the box is opened for the purpose of obtaining an inventory of the contents of the
box, the employee of the safe deposit company shall make, or cause to be made, an inventory
of the contents of the box, to which the employee and the interested person shall attest under
penalty of perjury to be correct and complete. Within ten days of opening the box pursuant to this
subdivision, the safe deposit company shall deliver the original inventory of the contents to the
court administrator for the county in which the lessee resided immediately before the lessee's
death, if known to the safe deposit company, otherwise to the court administrator for the county
in which the safe deposit box is located. The inventory must be personally delivered or sent by
registered mail. If the interested person so requests, the safe deposit company shall make a true
and correct copy of any document in the box, and of the completed inventory form, and deliver
that copy to the interested person. If the contents of the box include a document that appears to be
a will, the safe deposit company shall act in accordance with paragraph (f).
(i) If a box opened for the purpose of conducting an inventory, will search, or burial
document search is completely empty, the safe deposit company need not follow the procedures
above. Instead, the employee of the safe deposit company can complete an inventory of the box
contents indicating the fact that the box contained nothing. The form must be signed by the
employee and the interested person. If the interested person so requests, the safe deposit company
may provide a copy of the completed inventory form to the interested person. The interested
person shall then complete the documentation needed by the safe deposit company to surrender
the empty box. If another interested person inquires about the box after it has been surrendered,
the safe deposit company may state that the deceased renter had previously rented the box and
that the box was surrendered because it was empty.
(j) The safe deposit company need not ascertain the truth of any statement in the affidavit
required to be furnished under this subdivision and when acting in reliance upon an affidavit, it is
discharged as if it dealt with the personal representative of the lessee. The safe deposit company is
not responsible for the adequacy of the description of any property included in an inventory of
the contents of a safe deposit box, nor for conversion of the property in connection with actions
performed under this subdivision, except for conversion by intentional acts of the company or
its employees, directors, officers, or agents. If the safe deposit company is not satisfied that the
requirements of this subdivision have been met, it may decline to open the box.
(k) No contents of a box other than a will and a document required to facilitate the lessee's
wishes regarding body, funeral, or burial arrangements may be removed pursuant to this
subdivision. The entire contents of the box, however, may be removed pursuant to section
524.3-1201.
History: (7747-10) 1933 c 340 s 10; 1945 c 114 s 11; 1986 c 444; 1988 c 581 s 1; 1Sp1986 c
3 art 1 s 82; 1995 c 130 s 1; 1996 c 414 art 1 s 26; 1997 c 217 art 2 s 1; 2005 c 118 s 7