2020 Delaware Code
Title 12 - Decedents' Estates and Fiduciary Relations
Chapter 13. General Provisions
§ 1313 Restricted access to a decedent's safe deposit box for the limited purpose of retrieving the decedent's last will and/or declaration of last remains prior to the appointment of personal representative.
(a) After the death of the decedent but prior to the appointment of a personal representative for the decedent's estate, access to the decedent's safe deposit box located in a “financial institution,” as defined by § 101 of Title 5, and held in the decedent's sole name shall be limited to only such person or persons who present to the financial institution all of the following:
(1) A key or combination to the lock to the decedent's safe deposit box.
(2) A certified copy of the certificate of the decedent's death or other satisfactory proof thereof.
(3) Proof of identity of the person seeking access to the safe deposit box, with a photocopy of the proof of identity to be placed in the safe deposit box and to remain in the safe deposit box until retrieved by the personal representative of the decedent's estate.
(b) The financial institution has no duty to inquire into the truth of any statement, declaration, certificate, affidavit, or document offered as proof of the decedent's death or proof of identity of the person seeking access.
(c) If a person is unable to present a key or combination to the lock to the decedent's safe deposit box, a court order is required for access to the safe deposit box.
(d) Access to a safe deposit box pursuant to subsection (a) of this section shall be only under the supervision of an officer or employee of the financial institution, and shall be restricted only to the following:
(1) Opening the safe deposit box with the key presented in accordance with subsection (a) of this section;
(2) Making a photocopy of any wills or declarations of last remains located in the safe deposit box;
(3) Removal of wills and declarations from within the safe deposit box only after placing in the safe deposit box the photocopies of such wills and declarations to be removed, with the photocopies remaining in the safe deposit box until removed by the personal representative of the decedent's estate.
(e) Any will removed from a safe deposit box pursuant to this section and appearing on its face to have been executed in Delaware or by a testator residing in Delaware shall be sent from the financial institution to the Register of Wills in accordance with § 1301(a) of this title if the decedent was domiciled in Delaware at the time of death. All declarations of last remains removed from the safe deposit box may be released to the person seeking access to the safe deposit box after compliance with subsection (d) of this section.
(f) The financial institution may charge reasonable fees for any cost of sending the will to the Register of Wills and for photocopying any documents pursuant to subsections (a) and (d) of this section. Nothing herein shall preclude the person seeking access to the safe deposit box from seeking reimbursement of such costs from the decedent's estate.
(g) No financial institution shall be liable for the loss of any content of any safe deposit box for which access was granted pursuant to this section.82 Del. Laws, c. 283, § 1;