Bill Text: NJ S2484 | 2018-2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Revises procedures concerning access to decedent's safe-deposit box.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2018-04-16 - Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee [S2484 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2018-S2484-Introduced.html

SENATE, No. 2484

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED APRIL 16, 2018

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  NILSA CRUZ-PEREZ

District 5 (Camden and Gloucester)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Revises procedures concerning access to decedent's safe-deposit  box.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning safe-deposit boxes, amending and supplementing various parts of the statutory law.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    Section 4 of P.L.1955, c.151 (C.46:39-4) is amended to read as follows:

     4.    The death or incompetency of a person to whom a safe-deposit box or other receptacle for the safekeeping of personal property has been rented, and who has in writing appointed an agent with power of access thereto, shall not terminate the authority of such agent; but such authority shall continue until actual notice of such death or incompetency is received by the lessor of such box or other receptacle at the office in which such box or receptacle is located.  As used in this section, "person" includes a minor, and also includes

     (a)   a person acting in his individual capacity as sole renter of a safe-deposit box or other receptacle for the safekeeping of personal property;

     (b)   one, or more, or all of 2 or more persons acting in their individual capacities as co-renters of a safe-deposit box or other receptacle for the safekeeping of personal property;

     (c)   a person acting as sole executor, administrator, guardian, trustee or receiver in renting a safe-deposit box or other receptacle for the safekeeping of personal property;  and

     (d)   one, or more, or all of 2 or more persons acting as co-executors, co-administrators, co-guardians, co-trustees or co-receivers in renting a safe-deposit box or other receptacle for the safekeeping of personal property.

     Nothing contained herein shall prevent access to the safe-deposit box or other receptacle by a person who complies with the provisions of section  3 of P.L.   , c.    (C.        )(pending before the Legislature as this bill).

(cf: P.L.1955, c.151, s.4)

 

     2.    R.S.17:14A-52 is amended to read as follows:

     17:14A-52.  Accessibility to vault, safe deposit box or receptacle.

     The right of access to a vault, safe deposit box or receptacle rented to a lessee by a safe deposit company shall be governed by the rental agreement, the  provisions of  P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), P.L.1955, c.151 (C.46:39-1 et seq.), R.S.54:35-19 and R.S.54:35-20.

(cf: R.S.17:14A-52)

     3.    (New section) a. Upon being furnished with satisfactory proof of death of a sole lessee or the last surviving co-lessee of a safe-deposit box, the lessor shall open the box and examine the contents in the presence of a person who presents himself and furnishes a copy of the death certificate and an affidavit which states that:

     (1)   he is interested in the filing of the lessee's original will or in the arrangements for his burial;

     (2)   he believes the safe-deposit box may contain the original will or burial documents of the lessee; and

     (3)   he is an interested person as defined in this section.

     b.    The lessor shall not open the safe-deposit box in accordance with P.L.    , c.     (C.         ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill)  if the lessor has received a copy of letters of administration or letters testamentary of the deceased lessee's estate or other applicable court order.

     c.     The lessor shall not open the safe-deposit box if:

     (1)   the safe-deposit box has previously been opened in accordance with this section;

     (2)   the lessor 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.    The lessor has no duty to inquire into the truth of any statement in the affidavit required to be furnished pursuant to this section. The lessor's determination of the fact situations to be met under this section shall be conclusive and final, and the lessor shall be fully protected in relying conclusively on it.

     e.     The lessor shall remove any document which appears to be a will or codicil and deliver it to the Surrogate of the county in which the lessee resided immediately prior to his death, if known to the lessor, otherwise to the Surrogate of the county in which the safe-deposit box is located. The lessor shall deliver to the County Surrogate the original will or codicil by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested. The lessor shall provide the interested person with a photocopy of the original will, trust instrument or burial documents.  No other contents may be removed pursuant to this section.

     For purposes of this section, the term "interested person" means any person who immediately prior to the death of the lessee had the right of access to the box as a deputy, any person named as executor in a copy furnished by him of a purported will of the lessee, or the spouse, an adult descendant, parent, brother or sister of the lessee. If the affidavit states that none of the persons described above is available to be present at the opening of the safe-deposit box, the term "interested person" shall also mean any other person who the

lessor in its sole discretion determines may have a legitimate interest in the filing of the lessee's will or in the arrangements for his burial.

 

     4.    (New section) No safe deposit company, trust company, bank or other financial institution shall deliver or transfer any documents or contents in a safe-deposit box within its control or possession which belongs to a decedent unless  the person seeking access complies with the provisions of section 3 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) ( pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     5.    This act shall take effect 180 days after the date of enactment and shall apply to any safe-deposit box or other receptacle rented by any decedent dying on or after the effective date. The Commissioner of Banking and Insurance may take such anticipatory administrative action in advance thereof as shall be necessary for the implementation of this act.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would establish procedures for accessing a decedent's safe-deposit box to search for the original will and burial documents.  Under the provisions of the bill, an "interested person" would be authorized to open a safe-deposit box in the presence of the box's lessor provided that person furnishes a copy of the decedent's death certificate and an affidavit whereby he states that he is an interested party and would like access to the box to obtain the lessee's original will or to obtain burial documents which he believes may be contained in the safe-deposit box.  An "interested person" is defined in the bill as any person who immediately prior to the death of the safe-deposit box's lessee had the right of access to the box as a deputy, any person named as executor in a copy furnished by him of a purported will of the lessee, or the spouse, an adult descendant, parent, brother or sister of the lessee. If the affidavit states that none of the persons described above is available to be present at the opening of the safe-deposit box, the term "interested person" shall also mean any other person who the lessor in its sole discretion determines may have a legitimate interest in the filing of the lessee's will or in the arrangements for his burial.

     Under the provisions of the bill, the lessor would be required to remove the original will from the box and deliver it (by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested) to the Surrogate of the county in which the lessee resided immediately prior to his death, or to the Surrogate of the county in which the safe-deposit box is located.  The interested person would receive a photocopy of the original will, trust instrument or burial documents.

     This bill would take effect 180 days after the date of enactment and would apply to any safe-deposit box or other receptacle rented by any decedent dying on or after the effective date. However, the bill would allow the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance to take any necessary anticipatory administrative action necessary for the implementation of the bill.

     This bill also amends section 4 of P.L.1955, c.151 (C.46:39-4) (safe-deposit receptacle rentals) and R.S.17:14A-52 (safe-deposit companies) to provide the appropriate cross-references to the new procedures established by the bill.

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