My wife's uncle passed away a couple weeks ago. My wife is the executor of the Will. He had a safe deposit box he told us about when he first entered the hospital, but before we found out where the box was, his mental and physical condition went downhill quickly. We tried his main banks. If I were to take the key in that he told us was his safe deposit box key, would they tell me if it was their key or not? I know they will not give me any information beyond that, but if I can find the bank, my wife can go in with the proper paperwork.
First, look very closely at the key. A magnifying glass may be necessary, but some states require that a banks routing number be micro-stamped into the key. With the routing number, the bank can be identified.
Second, write to any bank where your wife's uncle may have had an account. Enclose a copy of the death certificate and papers identifying the executor, and have a letter signed by that person. Inquire as to any accounts he may have had, including a safe deposit box lease. Banks will check their files and typically let you know if there are any accounts there, so that they may be properly handled. Also look for any insurance policies associated with the accounts.
Third, watch the snail mail and email for any bank statements or safe deposit renewal notices. You can also look at past statements if you have them. If he had a safe deposit box that is active, one of these three should identify it.
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