Italian safe deposit box

Italian safe deposit box

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Question: I am the beneficiary of an estate which includes a safe deposit box in an Italian bank. How can I get access to its content?

Answer: In order to access the content of an Italian safe deposit box that used to belong to a deceased person, you need to prove your entitlement to it. In particular, banks ask for evidence that you are the, or one of the, legitimate heir/s. Some banks might be satisfied based on a mere affidavit signed by the heir/s.

The safe box process requires the involvement of an Italian notary to witness the first safe deposit box access after the death. The notary shall draft a detailed report about its content, including an estimate of any valuable content (e.g., jewelry, collectables), to be provided on the spot by an appraiser, in general also present.

Should the bank be satisfied with a mere affidavit by the heir/s, the process would imply a relatively low cost. Should the bank require evidence that the succession has been filed in the name of the applicant heir/s, in order to minimize costs at that stage the heir/s could complete a file a partial succession, i.e., without any assets but the safe deposit box. The main reason for this is that, in order to file the succession paperwork with the competent office, the heir/s would need first to apply for a bank statement showing that there is a safe deposit box in the name of the deceased. Such statement is required in order for the heir/s to include it in the succession assets disclosure schedule to be filed, as per the law.

Should bank account/s in the deceased’s name be still active at the bank where the safe deposit box is, the bank statement might show also said bank account/s information and balance/s. If this is the case, the tax authorities receiving the succession file would send an estate tax bill to the heir/s for the taxes applicable to such bank account/s balances. This would not be a problem, in general, unless a Will is found after the safe deposit box gets opened, and the beneficiaries names in such Will are not the applicant heir/s.

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