Safe Deposit Boxes

Section 383-B:5-501

    383-B:5-501 Safe Deposit Boxes. –
(a) If the amount due for the rent or use of a safe deposit box has not been paid for 6 consecutive months, or if the renter thereof shall not have removed the contents thereof within 30 days from the termination of the lease therefor for any reason other than for the non-payment of rent, the depository bank shall send a written notice to the renter at his or her last known mailing address by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested. The notice shall state that the renter has 60 days from the date the letter is sent to pay the rent and/or remove all contents, or the depository bank will follow the procedure as set forth in subsection (b) below. The letter shall set forth in detail the procedure to be followed.
(b) At the expiration of 60 days from the date of mailing the notice, if the renter of the safe deposit box failed to pay all of the amounts due for the rental to the date of payment, and/or remove the contents, all right of the person in the safe deposit box and of access to the box shall cease. The depository bank shall be required to use only the degree of care required of a bailee for the sole benefit of the bailor notwithstanding the contract of renting requires a higher degree of care during the period of renting. In the presence of an officer of the depository bank and a notary public who is not an officer or employee, the depository bank shall cause the safe deposit box to be opened. The notary public shall remove the contents thereof, make a list of them, seal the contents in a package, and write on the package the name and address of the person in whose name the safe deposit box was recorded on the books of the depository bank. In the presence of the notary public and the bank officer, the package shall be placed in one of the storage vaults of the depository bank. The proceedings of the notary public, including the list of the contents of the safe deposit box of the contents, shall be recorded under his or her official seal and maintained in written or electronic form by the depository bank.
(c) The record of the notary public shall be prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein in all proceedings at law and in equity wherein evidence of the facts would be competent.
(d) If the contents of the safe deposit box have not been claimed or redeemed by the payment of charges within 5 years after the removal of the contents, the depository bank shall, without any requirement to appraise the contents of the safe deposit box and, notwithstanding the right to inspection under RSA 471-C:19, II(c), sell the contents of the safe deposit box at public auction, public sale, or nationally recognized internet auction to the highest bidder after providing the notice to the apparent owner as required by RSA 471-C:19, V. For all sales or auctions, the time and place of any auction or sale shall be posted conspicuously on the premises of the depository bank and shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation once weekly for 3 consecutive weeks, the last publication being no less than 10 days before the auction or sale, in a newspaper published in the place where the safe deposit box is located. Any documents, letters or other papers of a private nature and any property or articles of no apparent value among the contents of the safe deposit box shall not be sold, but shall be retained for the 5 years from the time of the opening of the safe deposit box, and unless sooner claimed by the renter of the safe deposit box, may thereafter be destroyed without the need to provide notice to the apparent owner under RSA 471-C:19, V. Contents of a safe deposit box offered for sale for which no purchaser exists may be destroyed by the depository bank. United States coin or currency among the contents of any safe deposit box so opened need not be sold, but may be used by the depository bank to pay for its charges as set forth below. U.S. Savings Bonds shall not be sold or destroyed, but instead delivered to the administrator under RSA 471-C. If property is destroyed under this section, no action or proceeding may be maintained against the depository bank or any of its employees, officers or directors for or on account of the action.
(e) From the proceeds of the sale, the depository bank shall deduct all its charges for rental up to the time of opening the safe deposit box, including the amount which shall have been due for rental up to the time of opening the safe deposit box, the cost of the opening thereof, and the fees of the notary public for his or her proceedings and shall pay from time to time the further charges and costs of safe keeping, selling, and destroying the contents of the safe deposit box so opened, including reasonable expenses for notices, advertising, sale, and destruction. After deduction of costs, the depository bank shall remit the net cash proceeds to the state treasurer under RSA 471-C:21.
(f) When a safe deposit box is rented to 2 or more persons under a rental contract granting a separate right of access to either or any one of the persons or the survivor or survivors of them, the survivor or survivors of the joint renters shall have a right of access to the safe deposit box for any purpose; and the depository bank shall be protected against all renters of the box, their heirs, assigns, executors, and administrators, in recognizing that right.
(g) When a safe deposit box is rented to a person, and the renter appoints a representative on the records of the depository bank by written power of attorney expressly providing that the representative shall have a continued right of access to the safe deposit box after the death of the renter, and the renter dies survived by the representative, then, notwithstanding any rule of law to the effect that a power of attorney is terminated by the death of the principal, the surviving representative shall have a right of access to the box for any purpose; and the depository bank, its employees, officers, and directors shall be protected against the heirs, assigns, executors, and administrators of the deceased renter in recognizing that right.
(h) The provisions of subsections (f) and (g) shall not be construed to create a joint tenancy in or otherwise establish ownership in any of the contents of a safe deposit box.
(i) A depository bank engaged in the business of renting safe deposit boxes, which in good faith allows the department of revenue administration access to a taxpayer's safe deposit box under the department's distraint powers under RSA 80 shall be discharged, as well as its employees, officers and directors, from any obligation or liability to the taxpayer with respect to the property contained in the safe deposit box.
(j) The provisions of this section shall also apply to safe deposit boxes maintained in this state by foreign banks.

Source. 2015, 272:16, eff. Oct. 1, 2015.