Secure stored valuables

Immediately After a Death

Once the home has been secured, it's important to take inventory of any valuable property that can be easily stolen.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Money (credit cards, checkbooks)
  • Electronics (cellphone, tablets, computers)
  • Keys to property, vehicles
  • Jewelry, art

Either keep them secured in the deceased's home, or take them to a different location.

It's important to keep track of any valuables that are moved. Catalog them in a spreadsheet so that you're organized in the short term, and have records to refer back to later when the Estate will need to be settled.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know It may also be a good idea to take photos of each Asset so there’s a clear record of what was moved. This will not only help with organization, but may also help the Executor identify everything when settling the deceased's estate.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant Make sure not to give any item to Beneficiaries or Next of Kin until the estate is settled during Probate. Distributing assets before probate court authorization may lead to problems or disputes, especially if a person takes an item they aren't entitled to.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about managing a deceased person's assets during probate, including distributing to beneficiaries and next of kin, see the "Settle the Estate" section of the Guide.

Helpful Tips


Safe deposit boxes can be administratively complex for a surviving family, next of kin, and even beneficiaries named in a Last Will and Testament.

This is because the rules that govern access are variable: they might be set by local or state law, or by the bank itself.

This makes knowing who may have access, or gain access, difficult for a family member not listed on the account. In fact, if not listed on the account, even the Executor of the Estate will need proof of authorization from Probate Court before they are granted access.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant It's possible that probate takes a substantial amount of time. As a result, the contents of a safe deposit box may sit idle, and if it goes on for too long, its contents may be turned over as "unclaimed property" of the state.

Therefore, regularly check in with the unclaimed property division in the state where the deceased had their account. To locate county and state unclaimed property, see the link below.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about managing the deceased's assets during probate, see the "Settle the Estate" section of the Guide.

Personal Considerations


Did the deceased have a safe deposit box?


Contact the bank where the box is located to ensure that its contents are secure.

If you have the key, and are listed on the account, you should be able to gain access.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know Safe deposit box keys might be located somewhere in the deceased's home: look in drawers, safes, or other areas where important documents are stored.

If you cannot find the keys, or documents proving that you are listed on the account, then you will most likely need to wait until probate begins and an executor of the estate has been named.

In this case, only the executor will be legally authorized by state probate court to access the box.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about probate and managing a deceased person's assets, see the "Settle the Estate" section of the Guide.

AutumnIcons_Providers.svgProviders It may be helpful to speak with a Probate Attorney to navigate access issues. Find lawyers near you in the links below.


Confirm this by contacting banks with whom the deceased had an account, as well as others in the local area. It's possible that one exists but the deceased did not leave behind documents or records about it.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant It's possible that banks will not disclose whether a deceased person had an account or safe deposit box. However, they may be willing to disclose this information to an executor of the estate once they have been authorized by Probate Court.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about managing the deceased's assets during probate, see the "Settle the Estate" section of the Guide.

If no safe deposit box exists, continue reading the rest of this section of the Guide.


If the deceased had a safe deposit box:

Contact the bank where the box is located to ensure that its contents are secure.

If you have the key, and are listed on the account, you should be able to gain access.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know Safe deposit box keys might be located somewhere in the deceased's home: look in drawers, safes, or other areas where important documents are stored.

If you cannot find the keys, or documents proving that you are listed on the account, then you will most likely need to wait until probate begins and an executor of the estate has been named.

In this case, only the executor will be legally authorized by state probate court to access the box.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about probate and managing a deceased person's assets, see the "Settle the Estate" section of the Guide.

AutumnIcons_Providers.svgProviders It may be helpful to speak with a Probate Attorney to navigate access issues. Find lawyers near you in the links below.

If the deceased did not have a safe deposit:

Confirm this by contacting banks with whom the deceased had an account, as well as others in the local area. It's possible that one exists but the deceased did not leave behind documents or records about it.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant It's possible that banks will not disclose whether a deceased person had an account or safe deposit box. However, they may be willing to disclose this information to an executor of the estate once they have been authorized by Probate Court.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about managing the deceased's assets during probate, see the "Settle the Estate" section of the Guide.

If no safe deposit box exists, continue reading the rest of this section of the Guide.


Did the deceased rent a storage unit?


Make sure that rent continues to be paid so that the deceased's valuables are secure from theft, regardless of whether the space will be kept or not.

Speak with the manager of that property regarding the status of the account to ensure that there are no outstanding payments or other issues that may jeopardize its security.

If you have the key, and are listed on the account, you should be able to gain access. If the key cannot be found, look in drawers, safes, or other areas where important documents were stored in the deceased's home.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant If don't have the key, or documents and records, the storage company will likely not grant you access. You will most likely need to wait until probate begins and an executor of the estate has been named. In this case, only the executor will be legally authorized to access the space.

If the storage space will no longer be kept

  • Keep track of any valuables that are moved
  • Catalog them in a spreadsheet so that you're organized in the short term
  • This record will also help later when settling the estate

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know It may also be a good idea to take photos of each asset so there’s a clear record of what was moved. This will not only help organization, but may also help the executor identify everything when settling the deceased's estate.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant Make sure not to give any item to beneficiaries or next or kin until the estate is settled during probate. Distributing assets before probate court authorization may lead to problems or disputes, especially if a person takes an item they aren't entitled to.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about managing a deceased person's assets during probate, including distributing to beneficiaries and next of kin, see the "Settle the Estate" section of the Guide.


Continue to review that all other property and valuables are safe and secure.


If the deceased rented a storage space:

Make sure that rent continues to be paid so that the deceased's valuables are secure from theft, regardless of whether the space will be kept or not.

Speak with the manager of that property regarding the status of the account to ensure that there are no outstanding payments or other issues that may jeopardize its security.

If you have the key, and are listed on the account, you should be able to gain access. If the key cannot be found, look in drawers, safes, or other areas where important documents were stored in the deceased's home.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant If don't have the key, or documents and records, the storage company will likely not grant you access. You will most likely need to wait until probate begins and an executor of the estate has been named. In this case, only the executor will be legally authorized to access the space.

If the storage space will no longer be kept

  • Keep track of any valuables that are moved
  • Catalog them in a spreadsheet so that you're organized in the short term
  • This record will also help later when settling the estate

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know It may also be a good idea to take photos of each asset so there’s a clear record of what was moved. This will not only help organization, but may also help the executor identify everything when settling the deceased's estate.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant Make sure not to give any item to beneficiaries or next or kin until the estate is settled during probate. Distributing assets before probate court authorization may lead to problems or disputes, especially if a person takes an item they aren't entitled to.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about managing a deceased person's assets during probate, including distributing to beneficiaries and next of kin, see the "Settle the Estate" section of the Guide.

If the deceased did not rent storage space:

Continue to review that all other property and valuables are safe and secure.

Providers to Contact


Probate Attorneys Near You

Probate Attorneys can help you access the deceased’s property and gather and catalog assets. They help settle a deceased person’s estate and ensure you comply with all relevant laws and procedures.

No results in your area.


Immediately After a Death