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  • PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
  • TITLE XXII CORPORATIONS
  • CHAPTER 158 CERTAIN MISCELLANEOUS CORPORATIONS
  • Section 17 Safe deposit boxes; definitions; insurance notice; overdue rentals; affidavit

Section 17. As herein used, “bank” shall mean any bank as defined in section one of chapter one hundred and sixty-seven, any national banking association doing business in the commonwealth and any domestic corporation organized under general or special laws of the commonwealth for the purpose of carrying on the business of a safe deposit company; “safe deposit box” shall mean a box or safe in the vaults of any bank; “lessee” shall mean the person or persons in whose name or names a safe deposit box stands on the books of a bank; and “rent” shall mean the amount due to a bank for the rental or use of a safe deposit box.

Any bank which leases a safe deposit box for rent shall advise the lessee in writing that insurance coverage for the contents of such safe deposit box is not provided by such bank, but that the lessee may, at his own expense, insure said contents with an insurance company of his own selection. The commissioner of banks shall establish such rules and regulations as he deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this paragraph.

If the rent for a safe deposit box in a bank has not been paid for one year after being due, the bank may mail, postpaid, to the lessee at his address shown on the books of said bank, a notice stating that if the rent for such safe deposit box is not paid within sixty days from the date of such notice, the bank may cause such safe deposit box to be opened and the contents disposed of in accordance with the terms of this section. Upon the expiration of sixty days from the date of such notice, if the lessee has failed to pay the rent for such safe deposit box in full to the date of such notice, all rights of the lessee in the safe deposit box and of access thereto shall cease, and such bank may, at any time thereafter in the presence of one of its officers and of a notary public not in the general employ of such bank, cause such safe deposit box to be opened, and such notary public shall remove the contents thereof, list the same and seal such contents in a package, marking thereon the name of the lessee and his address as shown on the books of the bank. An affidavit setting forth the facts concerning the entry, listing the contents of the safe deposit box and signed by the bank officer and the notary public shall be retained by the bank. Such affidavit shall be prima facie evidence of the facts therein set forth in all proceedings at law and equity wherein evidence of such facts would be competent.

The package containing the contents of any safe deposit box opened as aforesaid shall be retained on special deposit by the bank, subject to payment of rent due for such safe deposit box, all expenses incurred in connection with opening said safe deposit box and charges for safekeeping of such package. If such package remains unclaimed for seven years and the amounts due as above provided remain unpaid the bank may mail, postpaid, to the person or persons to whom, and at the address at which, the notice provided for above was mailed, a notice stating that if such amounts shall not be paid within sixty days from the date of such notice, the bank will turn over the contents less the rental charges to the state treasurer as unclaimed and abandoned property, to be held by him subject to the provisions of chapter two hundred A. The bank may sell, assign or deliver so much of the contents of such package, at either public or private sale, as will enable it to realize such amount as will compensate for said charges.

The affidavit required by this section may be in the following form:—

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS

County of

We, ______________ an authorized official of ______________ and ______________ a notary public not in the general employ of said bank, hereby certify that on the ______ day ________ (insert year), we were present and witnessed the forcible opening of Safe No. ______ leased in the name of ______________ in the vaults of the ______________ office of said bank; that the contents of said safe were removed, examined, listed and then enclosed in a package and sealed in our presence. We further certify that the following is a true and complete list of all the contents removed from said safe.

(Allow space here for listing of contents.)

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Signature of officer.   Title.
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Name of Bank.
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Signature of notary public not in the general employ of said bank.