If the Safety Deposit Box (the Box) is part of the estate, then once the decedent dies, it must be opened and inventoried by the Trustee in front of a bank witness.
If the box is held in joint-tenancy, then the surviving tenant can then open the box and take the contents.
However, who exactly owns the contents in the safety deposit box?
The following persons, and no others, are entitled to receive from the bank a copy of the inventory: (a) An executor of the decedent's will. (b) The administrator of the decedent's estate. (c) The attorney for the executor or administrator. (d) A tenant of the safe-deposit box. (e) Any heir of the decedent or beneficiary under the decedent's will. (f) Any person whom the superior court having jurisdiction by order directs should be allowed to obtain a copy of the inventory.