Safe deposit boxes fulfill an important function. They allow individuals to store valuable items or documents within the secure confines of a bank or other financial institution. Things like birth certificates, property deeds, heirlooms, expensive jewelry, collectibles and rare items may be found within the boxes. State law governs who has access to a safe deposit box. In many cases, relatives of deceased persons have reason to inquire about the existence or contents of such a box, especially if it's not explicitly stated in a will.
Consult the executor of the individual's will. The executor administers testamentary matters and may be able to provide that information. In some cases, individual's grant right of access and a set of deposit box keys to the executor.
Inquire with the individual's attorney, if any. Attorneys are also sometimes privy to personal finance information, such as safe deposit boxes, and may have a key as well.
Peruse personal financial records of the individual. Look for bank statements indicating the rental of a safe deposit box. Also keep your eye out for annual charges of between $15 and $100, typical fees of deposit box rental.
Contact any banks where the individual held an account and inquire about whether they had a safe deposit box. Depending on the state in which you reside, you may have to furnish a death certificate, provide proof of next-of-kinship, or present a will giving you access to the contents.
Inquire with the unclaimed property administration of the state where the individual lived. Each state has its own procedure for unclaimed property inquiries, but generally you have to fill out a paper form or submit an inquiry online.