Certifying the Contents of a Safe-Deposit Box

In Florida, a financial institution may open a safe-deposit box if the rental fee is past due, providing that proper notice has been made and that certain other conditions are met.  A notary public is authorized and required to be present for the opening of the safe-deposit box, to inventory the contents of the vault, and to make an appropriate certificate of the opening.  The notary is not required to estimate the value of the contents of the safe-deposit box.  As with other notarial acts, the maximum fee a notary may charge for performing the authorized duties at the opening of a safe-deposit box is $10.

Procedure for the Notary Public

■ The notary must be present at the time the safe-deposit box is opened and may not be a director, officer, employee, or stockholder of the financial institution. An officer of the institution must also be present with the notary at the opening of the safe-deposit box.

■ When the safe-deposit box is opened, the notary should inventory the contents of the box and should complete a certificate reciting the name of the lessee, the date of the opening, and a list of the contents.  Florida law does not provide a form certificate; however, the following form, prepared by the Notary Section, should be sufficient.

■ Once the certificate is completed, copies should be made.  The notary should place the original certificate in a package with the contents of the safedeposit box and seal the package.  The notary must then write on the outside of the package the name of the lessee and the date of the opening.

■ The notary should leave the sealed package and a copy of the certificate with the financial institution.

■ The notary should keep a record book or journal of notarial acts, details of the act should be recorded.  It may be a good idea to require the person opening the box, the officer of the institution, and any other witness to sign the journal as well.