2016 Tennessee Code
Title 45 - Banks and Financial Institutions
Chapter 2 - Banking Institutions
Part 9 - Safe Deposit and Safekeeping
§ 45-2-905. Death of persons having access.
(a) No lessor shall rent any safe deposit box without first requiring all persons entitled to access to the safe deposit box to agree in writing to notify the lessor of the death of a sole or last surviving lessee of the safe deposit box, and all persons having the right of access to the safe deposit box, upon the death of the other person having the right of access to the safe deposit box, before seeking access, shall notify the lessor of the death of the lessee, and the lessor may rely conclusively upon the absence of notification in allowing a person with a right of access to enter the box.
(b) Access to a safe deposit box shall be in accordance with the agreement between a lessor and lessee or lessees. The death of a person authorized access to a safe deposit box by the agreement shall not terminate the access of others so authorized in all cases where there is a surviving lessee, whether the surviving lessee is an individual, trust, corporation or other entity, unless further access is restricted by the agreement or by court order.
(c) Upon the death of the sole or last surviving lessee of a safe deposit box, access is authorized as follows:
(1) The duly qualified executor or administrator of the lessee may have access to and remove contents from the safe deposit box, without inventory unless an inventory is required by the lessor or by court order;
(2) In order to search for and remove any written instrument purporting to be the lessee's last will and testament, or any writing relating to a burial plot or burial instructions, or any writing purporting to be an insurance policy on the life of the lessee, a lessor shall permit a person named in a court order for that purpose, or if no order has been served upon the lessor, the lessee's spouse, parent, adult sibling or adult descendant, or a person named as executor in a copy of the lessee's purported will provided to the lessor, or any person with a right of access to the safe deposit box immediately prior to the death of the lessee, to open the safe deposit box with an officer or employee of the lessor and remove the documents. A record of items removed from the box by the person authorized entry shall be made by the lessor and the other person. If a purported will is found that does not name as executor the person conducting the will search with the lessor's representative, the lessor may make a copy thereof and mail or deliver it to the executor named therein, or to the court having jurisdiction of the decedent's estate according to the decedent's domicile as declared in the instrument; and
(3) If an executor or administrator of the lessee's estate has not requested access to the contents within sixty (60) days following the lessee's death, the lessor may then permit access by the surviving spouse or any next-of-kin of the lessee for the purposes of inventory and the removal of contents. Prior to removal, an officer or employee of the lessor and the surviving spouse or next-of-kin of the lessee shall inventory the contents of the box and prepare a record thereof to be retained by the lessor.
(d) Upon the death of the sole or last surviving lessee, the lessor shall notify the department of revenue of the death of the lessee and the existence of a safe deposit box within thirty (30) days of the time the lessor has actual knowledge of the lessee's death. The lessor shall retain records made pursuant to subsection (c) for a period of three (3) years after entry. Chapter 10 of this title notwithstanding, the lessor shall provide copies of the record to the department upon its request, to the executor or administrator of the decedent upon request, and to any party designated by court order, and the lessor may elect to provide copies to any person authorized access to the box at the time of the decedent's death, or to any person having a degree of kinship to the decedent equal to that of the next-of-kin who received contents following the death of the decedent.
(e) A lessor shall not be liable to any person for the removal or loss of any contents from a safe deposit box during a period of access by an executor or administrator of a deceased lessee, or by any other person or persons authorized access to open and examine contents, whether the property removed or lost is that of the decedent's estate, a surviving lessee, or any other person, and the lessor is entitled to its expenses in defending against such a claim of liability.
(f) To the extent that there is a conflict between this section and § 67-8-417 or § 67-8-418, this section shall control.
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