2011 ORS § 723.844¹
Procedures for opening safe deposit box after death of person who was sole lessee or last surviving lessee of box

(1) This section applies to the safe deposit box of any person who is the sole lessee or last surviving lessee of the box and who has died.

(2) Subject to ORS 114.537 (Safe deposit boxes), upon being furnished with a certified copy of the decedents death certificate or other evidence of death satisfactory to the credit union, the credit union within which the box is located shall cause or permit the box to be opened and the contents of the box examined at the request of an individual who furnishes an affidavit stating:

(a) That the individual believes the box may contain the will of the decedent, a trust instrument creating a trust of which the decedent was a trustor or a trustee at the time of the decedents death, documents pertaining to the disposition of the remains of the decedent, documents pertaining to property of the estate of the decedent or property of the estate of the decedent; and

(b) That the individual is an interested person and wishes to open the box to conduct a will search or trust instrument search, obtain documents relating to the disposition of the decedents remains or inventory the contents of the box or remove property of the estate of the decedent pursuant to a small estate affidavit filed under ORS 114.515 (Value of estate).

(3) For the purpose of this section, interested person means any of the following:

(a) A person named as personal representative of the decedent in a purported will of the decedent;

(b) The surviving spouse or any heir of the decedent;

(c) A person who was serving as the court-appointed guardian or conservator of the decedent or as trustee for the decedent immediately prior to the decedents death;

(d) A person named as successor trustee in a purported trust instrument creating a trust of which the decedent was a trustor or a trustee at the time of the decedents death;

(e) A person designated by the decedent in a writing that is acceptable to the credit union and is filed with it prior to the decedents death;

(f) A person who immediately prior to the death of the decedent had the right of access to the box as an agent of the decedent under a durable power of attorney;

(g) If there are no heirs of the decedent, an estate administrator of the Department of State Lands appointed under ORS 113.235 (Appointment of estate administrators by Director of Department of State Lands); or

(h) A person who is authorized to file an affidavit under ORS 114.515 (Value of estate).

(4) If the box is opened for the purpose of conducting a will search, the credit union shall remove any document that appears to be a will, make a true and correct copy of it and deliver the original will to a person designated in the will to serve as the decedents personal representative, or if no such person is designated or the credit union cannot, despite reasonable efforts, determine the whereabouts of such person, the credit union shall retain the will or deliver it to a court having jurisdiction of the estate of the decedent. A copy of the will shall be retained in the box. At the request of the interested person, a copy of the will, together with copies of any documents pertaining to the disposition of the remains of the decedent, may be given to the interested person.

(5) If the box is opened for the purpose of conducting a trust instrument search, the credit union shall remove any document that appears to be a trust instrument creating a trust of which the decedent was a trustor or trustee at the time of the decedents death, make a true and correct copy of it and deliver the original trust instrument to a person designated in the trust instrument to serve as the successor trustee on the death of the decedent. If no such person is designated or the credit union cannot, despite reasonable efforts, determine the whereabouts of such person, the credit union shall retain the trust instrument. A copy of the trust instrument shall be retained in the box. At the request of any interested person, a copy of the trust instrument may be given to the interested person.

(6) If the box is opened for the purpose of obtaining documents pertaining to the disposition of the decedents remains, the credit union shall comply with subsection (4) or (5) of this section with respect to any will or trust instrument of the decedent found in the box, and may in its discretion either:

(a) Make and retain in the box a copy of any documents pertaining to the disposition of the remains of the decedent and tender the original documents to the interested person; or

(b) Provide a copy of any documents pertaining to the disposition of the remains of the decedent to the interested person and retain the original documents in the box.

(7) If the box is opened for the purpose of making an inventory of its contents, the credit union shall comply with subsection (4) or (5) of this section with respect to any will or trust instrument of the decedent that is found in the box, and shall cause the inventory to be made. The inventory must be attested to by a representative of the credit union and may be attested to by the interested person, if the interested person is present when the inventory is made. The credit union shall retain the original inventory in the box, and shall furnish a copy of the inventory to the interested person upon request.

(8) If the interested person is an affiant of a small estate affidavit filed under ORS 114.515 (Value of estate) and delivers a certified copy of the affidavit in the manner provided by ORS 114.535 (Transfer of decedents property to affiant), the credit union shall provide to the affiant access to the decedents property. The credit union shall comply with subsection (4) or (5) of this section if a will or trust instrument of the decedent is found in the box. Subject to ORS 114.537 (Safe deposit boxes), the credit union shall allow the affiant to take possession of the personal property in the box.

(9) The credit union may presume the truth of any statement contained in the affidavit required to be furnished under this section and ORS 114.535 (Transfer of decedents property to affiant), and when acting in reliance upon such an affidavit, the credit union is discharged as if it had dealt with the personal representative of the decedent. The credit union is not responsible for the adequacy of the description of any property included in an inventory of the contents of a box, or for the conversion of the property in connection with actions performed under this section, except for conversion by intentional acts of the credit union or its employees, directors, officers or agents. If the credit union is not satisfied that the requirements of this section have been satisfied, the credit union may decline to open the box.

(10) If the interested person or affiant does not furnish the key needed to open the box, and the credit union must incur expense in gaining entry to the box, the credit union may require that the interested person or affiant pay the expense of opening the box.

(11) Any examination of the contents of a box under this section shall be conducted in the presence of at least one employee of the credit union. [1999 c.506 §11; 2003 c.395 §25; 2011 c.422 §5]