Safe Deposit Locker: What Happens if There is No Nomination?


When we invest our hard-earned money onto some investment scheme, we hope to get the best returns out of it. Now let’s understand what is the importance of having a nomination, associated with your savings or investment. So, in any savings or investment scheme, there is a direct relationship between the customer, which is us, and the organization, which is handling our money. The investments can be of any type, fixed deposits, safe locker deposits, recurring deposits, provident fund schemes, etc. But there is no guarantee that the investor will be alive by the time, the investment gets matured. So it is very necessary to appoint a nominee so that he/she can withdraw the maturity benefit in case of death of the investor.

Advantages of having a nomination facility

In case of death of the investor, there comes a question of who is the rightful owner of the property or the investment. Generally, the family of the person is given the maturity benefits. But by appointing a nominee with your deposit or investment account, the settlement of the maturity benefits becomes a lot easier. Having a nomination means you are authorizing that person to withdraw the benefit in your absence. So this prevents all the confusion and unnecessary works, even when you are not there.

Safe deposits lockers in banks

The banks provide a facility of safe deposit locker system. Just like you can keep your money in your savings bank account, you can also keep your valuables in your safety locker. Safe deposit lockers are available with almost all public and private banks. You can keep your valuables like gold and costly ornaments, your very precious possessions, documents of your property, etc. These lockers are safer than our own houses. There is no threat of theft or damage to our valuables. This will allow operating the locker, even when the owner is not there. Every locker has two combinations of keys or password; one is kept with the owner and another with the bank itself.

Nomination facility with your locker deposit

It is a wise option to keep a nominee associated with your safe deposit locker in the bank. Nomination facility is easily available with the banks and it is free of cost. You just have to register the name of the nominee along with his / her valid documents. The registration of nominee can be done at the time of opening a locker deposit. Otherwise, you can also do the same, later, by filling up the nomination form. Having a nominee does not mean that the nominee is also a rightful owner of your property. The sole purpose of having a nominee is that in your absence, i.e. after your death, the nominee will get access to your property.

What is the procedure by which the nominee can access the locker after the owner’s death?

After a nominee is registered with a safe deposit locker in the bank, he gets the rightful access to the locker after the owner’s death. So after the death of the owner, the bank verifies the identification of the nominee by asking for production of valid documents like voter identity card, PAN card, driving license, etc. The death certificate of the owner, in original, is also asked for production. There is a record of articles kept in the locker, with the bank. They verify and crosscheck the locker in front of the nominee and along with two other witnesses. If everything goes right, then only the nominee is permissible to take the articles or continuing with the locker.

In case there is no nominee registered with the safe locker deposit.

There might be a situation that there is no nominee registered with a safe locker deposit in the bank. Then things become a little complicated. Then the legal heir will automatically be considered as the rightful owner of the locker and its associated property. Legal heir means a son/daughter, or husband/wife, or parents, etc. That means one with a very close blood relation. But then also, proper identity proof of the legal heir is required along with the death certificate of the owner. In this case, also the bank will have two witnesses while releasing the claims.

Nomination if the safe deposit locket in joint accounts

The joint accounts in banks have two or more account holders associated with a single account. So a locker with a joint account will also have two or more rightful owner. So a joint account can also have a nominee associated with it. In case of death of one account holder, the other account member can always access the contents of the safe locker. But in case both the joint account holders are dead, then the nominee will be given access to the locker by verifying his identity and on the production of death certificates of the owners.

Nomination system in ‘Either or Survivor’ type accounts

As per the Banking Regulations Act, there is no such provision of having a nominee associated with a locker deposit which is ‘Either or Survivor’ type. So in case of death of anyone member, the other member will be the controller of the locker. But in case, both the account holders expire, and then the legal heirs will gain the right to access the safety locker. But first of all, documents regarding closed blood relation with the dead account holders are to be produced along with identity cards of the legal heir. After verification, the bank makes a detailed list of all the articles present in the locker. Then the legal heirs were handed access to the locker. There is one or more independent witness present during the handing over the procedure.

S. No Safety deposit locker type Availability of nomination facility Documents required for claim by nominee If no nominee available
1. Normal locker with a single owner. Yes Identity proof of nominee (Voter card, PAN card, passport, driving license, etc.), Death certificate of the owner. Access to the legal heir after proper verification.
2. Locker with joint accounts. Yes Identity proof of nominee (Voter card, PAN card, passport, driving license, etc.), Death certificate of both owners. Access to the legal heir after proper verification.
3. Locker with ‘Either or Survivor’ type. No Identity proof of nominee (Voter card, PAN card, passport, driving license, etc.), Death certificate of the owners. Access to the legal heir after proper verification.


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Author and Assistant Professor in Finance, Ardent fan of Arsenal FC. Always believe "The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance - Socrates"
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