Q: Seeking access to a deceased parent's bank box to search for an estate and living trust plan
Our mother, whose estate is in central MO, has recently passed . Myself and my sibling are on opposite ends of the country. We are dead-center of COVID-19 quarantine and are unable to move about the country. We need access to her bank box to see if the booklet is in it so we can appropriately handle her estate, we know affirmatively that one exists. We cannot physically get to Missouri to look for it. We know the # of the bank box, we cannot locate the keys because A) She was a hoarder B) Her live-in partner is of no help due to age and onset dementia and C) Covid-19. What are our rights and how do we get in the box to simply SEE if the trust is in there? Do we need to send it all to probate? Should we seek an affidavit in support of search? Do we need an attorney to assist with that? We are frustrated and at a loss.
A: I am so sorry for your loss. Unfortunately there is not much you can do right now. When a person dies their accounts are frozen and access to safe deposit boxes closed. In order to access a box you will likely need a court order from a Missouri court. And Missouri courts are closed for nonessential matters right now, including probate hearings. There is nothing to stop you from starting the probate process, however, which can be done online. You should hire a Missouri attorney who works in the county where your mother resided to make sure you file the correct paperwork. Once an executor or estate representative is appointed they will be able to access her box and accounts.
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