2006 Regular Session
To: Banking and Financial Services
By: Representative Guice
AN ACT TO AUTHORIZE BANKS TO CONSTRUCT SAFE DEPOSIT FACILITIES AND LEASE SAFE DEPOSIT BOXES; TO PROVIDE THAT THE BANK IS NOT LIABLE FOR THE LOSS OF PROPERTY IN SAFE DEPOSIT BOXES; TO PROVIDE FOR ACCESS TO SAFE DEPOSIT BOXES BY FIDUCIARIES; TO REQUIRE NOTIFICATION TO THE BANK OF THE DEATH OF ANY PERSON WHO HAS ACCESS TO A SAFE DEPOSIT BOX; TO SPECIFY WHO WILL HAVE ACCESS TO A SAFE DEPOSIT BOX UPON THE DEATH OF THE LAST SURVIVING LESSEE OF THE BOX; TO PROVIDE CERTAIN PROCEDURES THAT THE BANK MUST FOLLOW IF THE RENTAL DUE ON A SAFE DEPOSIT BOX HAS NOT BEEN PAID; TO AUTHORIZE THE SALE OF THE PROPERTY IN A SAFE DEPOSIT BOX AND PROVIDE FOR THE DISPOSITION OF THE PROCEEDS OF THE SALE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. As used in this act, unless the context otherwise requires:
(a) "Agent" means any person duly authorized in writing by a lessee to enter a safe deposit box rented by the lessee, whether the person is denominated as "agent," "deputy," "attorney-in-fact," or otherwise.
(b) "Fiduciary" means trustee, agent, executor, administrator, committee, guardian or conservator for a minor or other incompetent person, receiver, trustee in bankruptcy, assignee for creditors or any holders of a similar position of trust.
(c) "Lessee" means a person contracting with a lessor for the use of a safe deposit box.
(d) "Lessor" means a bank or subsidiary corporation of a bank renting safe deposit facilities.
(e) "Safe deposit box" means a safe deposit box, vault, or other safe deposit receptacle maintained by a lessor, and the rules relating thereto apply to property or documents kept in safekeeping in the bank's vault.
SECTION 2. Any bank has the right to construct a vault on its real estate, or on premises leased by it, or to rent any vault that, in the judgment of the directors, will provide reasonable means of safety against loss by theft, fire or other cause, in which vault may be placed safes, boxes, or receptacles, for the keeping of jewelry, diamonds, gold, bank notes, bonds, notes, and other valuables, and that may be rented by the bank to other persons on such terms as may be agreed by the parties. However, in no event shall the bank be liable for any loss of the jewelry, diamonds, gold, bank notes, bonds, notes, or other valuables by theft, robbery, fire, or other cause, the bank not being the insurer of the safety of the property, nor in any manner liable therefor. The bank is not required to take any note of property thus deposited, as the person who rents a safe, box, or receptacle is, for the term of the lease, the owner thereof.
SECTION 3. (1) Where a safe deposit box is made available by a lessor to one or more fiduciaries, the lessor may, except as otherwise expressly provided in the lease or the writings under which the fiduciaries are acting, allow access thereto to any one or more of the fiduciaries or to any agent authorized in writing by any one or more of the fiduciaries.
(2) The lessee, the lessee's estate or any successor fiduciary is bound by any dealings between the agent and the lessor under a power granting the agent access to a safe deposit box until the lessor has written notice of revocation of that power.
SECTION 4. A bank may lease a safe deposit box to and in connection therewith deal with a minor with the same effect as if leasing to and dealing with a person of full legal capacity, as provided in Section 81-5-61.
(1) No lessor shall rent any safe deposit box without first requiring all persons entitled to access thereto to agree in writing to notify the lessor of the death of a sole or last surviving lessee of the safe deposit box. All persons having the right of access to the safe deposit box, upon the death of any such other person having the right of access thereto, before seeking access, shall notify the lessor of the death of the lessee, and the lessor may rely conclusively upon the absence of any such notification in allowing a person with a right of access to enter the box.
(2) Access to a safe deposit box shall be in accordance with the agreement between a lessor and lessee(s). The death of a person authorized access to a safe deposit box by that agreement shall not terminate the access of others so authorized in all cases where there is a surviving lessee, whether the surviving lessee is an individual, trust, corporation or other entity, unless further access is restricted by that agreement or by court order.
(3) Upon the death of the sole or last surviving lessee of a safe deposit box, access is authorized as follows:
(a) The duly qualified executor or administrator of the lessee may have access to and remove contents from the safe deposit box without inventory, unless an inventory is required by the lessor or by court order.
(b) In order to search for and remove any written instrument purporting to be the lessee's last will and testament, or any writing relating to a burial plot or burial instructions, or any writing purporting to be an insurance policy on the life of the lessee, a lessor shall permit a person named in a court order for that purpose, or if no order has been served upon the lessor, the lessee's spouse, parent, adult sibling or adult descendant, or a person named as executor in a copy of the lessee's purported will provided to the lessor, or any person with a right of access to the safe deposit box immediately before the death of the lessee, to open the safe deposit box with an officer or employee of the lessor and remove any such documents. A record of items removed from the box by the person authorized entry shall be made by the lessor and the other person. If a purported will is found that does not name as executor the person conducting the will search with the lessor's representative, the lessor may make a copy thereof and mail or deliver it to the executor named therein, or to the court having jurisdiction of the decedent's estate according to the decedent's domicile as declared in the instrument.
(c) If an executor or administrator of the lessee's estate has not requested access to the contents within sixty (60) days following the lessee's death, the lessor may then permit access by the surviving spouse or any next-of-kin of the lessee for the purposes of inventory and the removal of contents. Before removal, an officer or employee of the lessor and the surviving spouse or next-of-kin of the lessee shall inventory the contents of the box and prepare a record thereof to be retained by the lessor.
(4) Upon the death of the sole or last surviving lessee, the lessor shall notify the Department of Banking and Consumer Finance of the death of the lessee and the existence of a safe deposit box within thirty (30) days of the time the lessor has actual knowledge of the lessee's death. The lessor shall retain records made under subsection (3) for a period of three (3) years after entry. The lessor shall provide copies of any such record to the department upon its request, to the executor or administrator of the decedent upon request, and to any party designated by court order, and the lessor may elect to provide copies to any person authorized access to the box at the time of the decedent's death, or to any person having a degree of kinship to the decedent equal to that of the next-of-kin who received contents following the death of the decedent.
(5) A lessor shall not be liable to any person for the removal or loss of any contents from a safe deposit box during a period of access by an executor or administrator of a deceased lessee, or by any other person or persons authorized access to open and examine contents, whether the property removed or lost is that of the decedent's estate, a surviving lessee, or any other person, and the lessor is entitled to its expenses in defending against any such claim of liability.
SECTION 5. (1) An adverse claim to the contents of a safe deposit box, or to property held in safekeeping, is not sufficient to require the lessor to deny access to its lessee unless:
(a) The lessor is directed to do so by order of a court of competent jurisdiction; or
(b) The safe deposit box is leased or the property is held in the name of the lessee with the addition of words indicating that the contents or property are held in a fiduciary capacity, and the adverse claim is supported by a written statement of facts disclosing that it is made by or on behalf of a beneficiary and that there is reason to know that the fiduciary will misappropriate the trust property.
(2) A claim is also an adverse claim where one (1) of several lessees claims, contrary to the terms of the lease, an exclusive right of access, or where one or more persons claim a right of access as agents or officers of a lessee to the exclusion of others as agents or officers, or where it is claimed that a lessee is the same person as one using another name.
SECTION 6. (1) If the rental due on a safe deposit box has not been paid, the lessor shall, not sooner than thirty (30) days nor later than four (4) years after the rental was due, send a notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by registered mail to the last known address of the lessee, stating that unless payment of the rental is made within thirty (30) days after the date of the notice:
(a) The safe deposit box will be opened and its contents stored for a minimum of one (1) year at the expense of the lessee;
(b) Without additional notice to the lessee, the contents may be offered for sale and unsold or unsalable items will be destroyed; and
(c) The proceeds of the sale, less expenses, unpaid rental charges, and storage will be transferred to the State Treasurer under Section 89-12-1 et seq.
(2) If the rental is not paid within thirty (30) days from the mailing of the notice, the box shall be opened in the presence of an officer or employee of the lessor and a notary public who also may be, but is not required to be, an officer or employee of the lessor. Those persons shall take an inventory of the contents of the safe deposit box. The contents, together with the inventory, shall be sealed in a package by the notary public, who shall write on the outside the name of the lessee and the date of the opening. The lessor shall report the name and last known address of the lessee and the contents of the box, as attested by the notary public, to the State Treasurer under Section 89-12-1 et seq. The report shall be delivered to the State Treasurer in a format as prescribed by the State Treasurer and shall be due on May 1 of the year following the calendar year in which the box is opened. The package shall then be retained by the lessor at a rental not exceeding the rental charges for the box.
(3) Before an auction or sale, the following types of property may be rejected as unsalable by an independent appraiser, an auctioneer, or the lessor and disposed of in the following manners:
(a) Documents or writings of a private nature having little or no apparent value may be destroyed by the lessor;
(b) Coins or currency with a face value of Twenty Dollars ($20.00) or less each that are valued at no more than twice the face value shall be treated as proceeds from a sale and deposited as provided in subsection (5);
(c) Coins or currency with a face value of greater than Twenty Dollars ($20.00) each that are valued at one hundred twenty-five percent (125%) or less of face value shall be treated as proceeds from a sale and deposited as provided in subsection (5);
(d) Any tangible item having an estimated sale value of less than Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00) may be destroyed by the lessor, provided that the aggregate value of all those items for a specific lessee does not exceed Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00); and
(e) Any tangible property including, but not limited to, stocks, bonds and promissory notes, shall be delivered to the State Treasurer under Section 89-12-1 et seq.
A current version of any recognized numismatist publication may be utilized for purposes of valuation of coins and currency.
(4) If the contents of the safe deposit box have not been claimed and redeemed by the payment of charges within one (1) year after filing the report with the State Treasurer, but not before May 1 of the succeeding year, the lessor shall sell the contents of the box at public auction or by other commercially reasonable sale at whatever time and place affords, in the judgment of the lessor, the most favorable price for the property involved. A lessor may sell the contents of safe deposit boxes in a sale conducted exclusively for the lessor, or in a sale conducted jointly for the lessor and any number of other financial institutions or other entities. The time, place and manner of any public sale shall be posted conspicuously on the premises of the lessor and advertised once in a newspaper of general circulation in the community, or in some other commercially reasonable manner of advertising. Property sold through other than a public auction shall be appraised, in writing, by a person who does not acquire the appraised contents and who is regularly engaged in the business of appraising, buying or selling like merchandise, or any other combination thereof. Firearms shall be sold through a federal firearm licensed dealer, or if sold at public auction, through an auctioneer who possesses a federal firearm license.
(5) The monetary proceeds resulting from any sale conducted under this section, after deducting accumulated charges, including a proportionate share of the expense of advertising and conducting the sale, shall be deposited to the credit of the lessee in any existing account maintained by the lessor on behalf of the lessee; any such deposit shall not constitute account activity under Section 89-12-1 et seq. If no account exists, proceeds shall be delivered to the State Treasurer under Section 89-12-1 et seq.
(6) Property offered for sale at a public auction or other commercially reasonable sale for which no purchaser exists shall be destroyed by the lessor and no action or proceeding may be maintained against the lessor, the independent appraiser or auctioneer, the State Treasurer or any of their employees for or on account of that action. If, before the sale, the property is rejected by an independent appraiser or auctioneer in accordance with subsection (3), the property shall be destroyed by the lessor and no action or proceeding may be maintained against the lessor, the independent appraiser or auctioneer, the State Treasurer or any of their employees for or on account of that action.
(7) After disposition of all contents of a safe deposit box, the lessor shall provide to the State Treasurer an updated inventory on the contents of the box, together with property not sold under subsection (3)(e). The report shall include information that the State Treasurer may, by rule and regulation, direct.
SECTION 7. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2006.