Protecting Contends of Safe Deposit Boxes Following Separation
As with Financial Code section 1450, this statute allows you to ensure that your spouse doesn't empty the contents of a safe deposit box - which would create unique proof problems since there is rarely any record of what they contain(ed) - if you act aggressively to block access and then seek emergency court orders directing that the safe deposit box to be inventoried in the presence of your attorney or a witness.
CALIFORNIA FINANCIAL CODE
NOTICE OF ADVERSE CLAIMS
Financial Code Section 1620
Notice to a bank operating a safety deposit department or to a company conducting a safety deposit business of an adverse claim (the person making the adverse claim being hereinafter in this section called "adverse claimant") to any personal property in a safety deposit box maintained by a bank or company and rented to any person, or to any personal property held by the bank or company in safekeeping or storage for any person shall be disregarded, and the bank or company, notwithstanding such notice, shall permit access to the box to the person to whom it is rented or shall deliver the contents thereof to or on the order of the person or shall deliver the property held in storage or safekeeping to or on the order of the person for whom it is held, without any liability on the part of the bank or company; subject, however, to the exceptions provided in subdivisions (a) and (b) of this section:
(a) If an adverse claimant delivers to the bank at the office at which the safety deposit is maintained or the property is held his affidavit stating that of his own knowledge the person in whose name the box stands or for whom the property is held is a fiduciary for the adverse claimant and that he has reason to believe such fiduciary is about to misappropriate the contents of the box or the property, and stating the facts upon which such claim of fiduciary relationship and such belief are founded, the bank or company shall refuse accessto the safety deposit box or refuse to deliver the personal property for a period of not more than three (3) court days (including the day of delivery) from the date that the bank or company received the adverse claimant's affidavit, without liability on its part and without liability for the sufficiency or truth of the facts alleged in the affidavit.
(b) If at any time, either before, after, or in the absence of the filing of an affidavit by the adverse claimant, the adverse claimant procures and serves upon the bank or company at the office at which the safety deposit box is maintained or the property is held a restraining order, injunction, or other appropriate order against the bank or company from a court of competent jurisdiction in an action in which the adverse claimant and all persons in whose names said box stands or for whom the property is held are parties, the bank or company shall comply with such order or injunction, without liability on its part.
(c) The provisions of this section shall be applicable even though the name of the person appearing on the bank's or company's books as the renter of the box or as the depositor of the property held in storage or safekeeping is modified by a qualifying or descriptive term such as "agent," "trustee," or other word or phrase indicating that the person may not be the owner in his own right of the contents of the box or of the property held in storage or safekeeping.
Before giving access to any safe-deposit box, the bank or company may demand payment to it of all costs and expenses of opening the safe-deposit box and all costs and expenses of repairing any damage to the safe-deposit box caused by the opening thereof.