In Nevada, if you believe that the decedent's will is locked inside a safe-deposit box, you will need a court order signed by the judge that orders the bank or financial institution to open the safe-deposit box just for the purpose of taking out the will. (NRS 136.060.) To get that court order to take to the bank or financial institution, you will need to truthfully assert that you believe the will is in the safe-deposit box and petition the court to order the bank to open the safe-deposit box so you can remove the will.
NOTE! This petition is strictly limited to the opening of the safe-deposit box for the purpose of removing the will. Nothing else will be permitted to be removed from the safe-deposit box if this petition is granted--only the will.
In order to obtain court authority to open the safe-deposit box and remove the will, follow these eight steps:
Step 1: Collect information.
Step 2: Fill out the packet.
Step 3: Gather consent forms.
Step 4: Fill out affidavit.
Step 5: Attach documents to your petition.
Step 6: File packet.
Step 7: Check status of case.
Step 8: Get order.
Each of these eight steps are discussed in more detail below.
The information you will first need to collect is the name of the bank or financial institution where the safe-deposit box is held and its address. It is best if you can also obtain the location of the key and box number.
Then, gather a list of all the persons who have equal or higher priority than you to authorize the opening of the safe-deposit box. You will need their names, ages, relationships to decedent, and addresses. The order of priority of persons is as follows:
- The decedent's spouse;
- The decedent's adult son or daughter;
- The decedent's parents;
- The decedent's adult brother or sister;
- The decedent's grandchildren;
- Any family entitled to share in the distribution of the estate.
Find out where you are in the list above, then gather the names, ages, and addresses of all the people who are equal or higher than you on that list.
A packet for the Ex Parte Petition for Order to Open Safe Deposit Box is available free of charge at the Civil Law Self-Help Center and on the probate webpage. You can also download an Ex Parte Petition for Order to Open Safe Deposit Box on your computer by clicking one of the listed formats underneath the form's title below. The packet includes the consent form listed in Step 3. (Remember you do not fill out this form. Go to Step 3 for more information.)
EX PARTE PETITION FOR ORDER TO OPEN SAFE DEPOSIT BOX
You can also download a form completion guide to show you how to fill out the form by clicking on the link below:
For information about how to fill out and file court forms, read Basics of Court Forms and Filings.
Complete the Petition for Order to Open Safe Deposit Box carefully, providing all requested information in all blanks. You, the person completing the packet, are the petitioner. Do not forget to sign the petition and verification.
Refer back to your list of family members that you compiled in Step 1 and that you included in your petition. Each person on that list who consents to the opening of the safe-deposit box should complete a consent form. Remember, you do not fill out this form; the family members who consent do. If you are the person with the highest priority or if you do not have the consent of family members with equal or higher priority, then you will not complete this step. If you do have the consent of family members of equal or higher priority, you can pick up a consent form at the Civil Law Self-Help Center or download it on your computer by clicking on one of the listed formats in Step 2. You might have to print out more than one consent form depending on how many family members are giving consent.
Refer back to your list of family members that you compiled in Step 1 and that you included in your petition. Go through that list and note which family members on that list did not fill out a consent in Step 3. An explanation for each of those family members needs to be provided in an affidavit. You can download an affidavit on your computer by clicking a link underneath the form's title below.
You will explain in the affidavit why you did not get the consent from each of those family members (e.g., no one knows how to contact that person, the person is estranged from the family, or the person consents but is deployed and can't fill out a consent, etc.) Note that if you are the person of highest priority, you might not need to complete this step.
Gather the following documents and attach them to the back of your petition.
- A copy of your picture ID.
- A copy of the death certificate.
- Consent forms filled out by the people of equal or higher priority than you who consent to the opening of the safe-deposit box, if there are such people.
- An affidavit filled out by you explaining why the people of equal or higher priority than you have not filled out a consent form, if there are such people.
After completing Steps 1 through 5, submit everything to the Eighth Judicial District Court. The clerk's office where you can submit the packet is on the 3rd floor of the Regional Justice Center at 200 Lewis Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89155. There is no fee to file.
After filing your petition, you should continuously check the court docket to see if anyone has filed an objection. You can go to the Eighth Judicial District Court website and search under "Family Records" by the decedent's name to see if anyone has filed an objection. If an objection gets filed, the court might set the matter for hearing. Note that hearing date and attend the hearing. However, if there are no objections, generally the court will not set the matter for hearing.
You should also continuously check the probate court's matter listing or "Pickup List" to see if the court has granted your petition. Click here for the probate webpage and click on the link for "The District Court Probate Pickup List." Search for the decedent's name under the column "Name of the Estate" then follow it to the "Status" column. If your petition has been granted, you will see the list will reflect "OK," and that means the judge has signed off on the order.
Once the judge has signed off on the order, you can wait for the order to be mailed to you. If there are no objections filed to your petition, you can expect to receive the order in the mail about 3 to 4 weeks after filing your petition. You will receive a plain order as well as a certified order in the mail. You can also pick up a certified copy of the order at the clerk's office on the 3rd floor where you filed. Once you have the order, you can bring it to the bank or financial institution for the opening of the safe-deposit box. Some institutions might request to see the certified copy of the order.
NOTE! If the petition is granted, the bank might charge you a drill fee, or a fee for opening up the safe-deposit box without a key. A bank representative will probably watch while the safe-deposit box is opened and make sure that only the will is removed. Again, this order only allows the opening of the safe-deposit box to remove the will. Anything else you see in the safe-deposit box will have to go through probate administration. See Administration of Estates.