Q: I live in a retirement community in Florida. I have a checking account and safe deposit box with a bank here. I wish to put my daughter on my safe deposit box but she lives in New Jersey and never comes to Florida. But, my bank tells me that my daughter must sign my bank’s signature card. What other way will allow me to put my daughter on my safe deposit box?
– Sandra R.
A: Sandra, since safe deposit boxes often hold very valuable content, you can understand your bank’s stringent protocols when it comes to the accessibility of those safe deposit boxes.
Every bank branch requires a signed signature card for each person (regardless of whether or not they have an account with the branch) who wants access to your safe deposit box. The people who attempt to access your box must sign their name before they enter the bank vault. If the signature doesn’t match the signature on the signature card, access is denied.
Usually, someone has to bring government-issued photo identification when he or she accompanies you to the bank branch, at which you rent your safe deposit box, to sign the signature card — as your bank required. I can see the predicament that you’re in since your daughter doesn’t visit Florida often.
There is a way to get your daughter to sign a signature card without having to visit your branch. But, it most likely won’t work unless you’re a customer of a large bank, one that has branches in New Jersey and in Florida.
For example, if you had a safe deposit box at a Chase branch in Florida, your daughter can visit a Chase branch in New Jersey (even if she is not a customer) and provide the proper identification to verify her signature. You must tell Chase which branch your daughter will visit so that the bank managers at the two branches can coordinate the verification of your daughter’s signature.
Ask your bank whether or not a similar procedure is possible.
Unfortunately, if you’re with a smaller, community bank, this method will not work for you.
If you’re inquiry is related to estate planning, you should know that granting access to your safe deposit box does not mean that you grant ownership of the contents in the safe deposit box. In the event of your death, your will is going to dictate the ownership of the contents.