New York Debt Collection and a Safe Deposit Box

New York debt collection and a safe deposit box, how does one affect the other? Convinced that your customer is hiding stockpiles of cash, stock certificates and the keys to the kingdom in their safe deposit box?  If you bring a New York debt collection case, can you empty your client’s safe deposit box?

So long as your client maintains a safe deposit box at a bank and you know where it is located, you can put a freeze on the box. A freeze means that no one can access the box without a court order. The freeze is good for one year. If not renewed before the year’s end, the freeze will expire. If the freeze expires, it allows your delinquent customer to access the box and empty the contents.

How do you locate the box?

If you do not know where the customer’s safe deposit box is located, you will need to do some work to uncover the location. With a judgment obtained in a New York debt collection case, you can issue subpoenas to banks and other financial institutions.

If you have good reason to believe that your delinquent customer banks or maintains a safe deposit box with a New York bank, your New York debt collection attorney can issue a subpoena to the bank. Although it is helpful, you don’t need to have an account number to proceed.

What does it take to empty the client’s safe deposit box in a NY debt collection case?

Once you locate the safe deposit box and freeze the account, you will need a court order to have the box unsealed. Your attorney will need to bring a special proceeding requesting permission to break open the box and secure the contents, if any, to satisfy your judgment.

In essence, your New York collection litigation will allow you to empty the client’s safe deposit box. Notice of the application must be given to the bank as well as your client.

What happens once you have a court order allowing you to empty the box?

Once you have an order from the court, you will need to make an appointment at the bank, pay the requisite bank fee, and be present at the bank with a marshal or sheriff.

After that, an inventory of the contents will be made. Then the marshal or sheriff will take possession of the items. A cash payment can immediately satisfy the judgment. Stocks must be liquidated and coins sold. Whatever else is in the box may require appraisal. After appraisal, there may be an attempt to liquidate them for cash.

Sealing and emptying a safe deposit box is only one way to satisfy a claim. Depending upon the situation, it may not be the most cost-effective. Very rarely is there something of value in the box. Often the boxes are found empty. There are many things to consider.

At FFGN, we have experience dealing with safe deposit boxes and other considerations. Our goal is getting as much of your money back to you as the law allows. Call us (212) 686-0100 or send us an email.