Are you sure mom put that money in deposit box?

Posted: July 26, 2012

DEAR HARRY: Back in 1999, my father died in a little town in Virginia. I went there to be with my mom while she was in deep grief.

While I was there, she told me she was going to put their life savings of $3,500 in a safe-deposit box at their bank. She gave me the second key to the box. My mom passed away in 2009, and I had forgotten about the safety deposit box for a long time.

When I remembered, I went down there to get the money. The box was totally empty. I started with the branch manager and went all the way to the bank's president, but never got a satisfactory explanation.

Harry, I'm sickly and can no longer make those long bus rides to get there. Somebody has that money, which now belongs to me since I am an only child.

What can I do?

WHAT HARRY SAYS: There are many possible answers to your problem. How sure are you that your mother did put the money in the safe deposit box? Did you examine the "sign-in" card to see if perhaps she went to the box and cleaned it out?

On the other hand, it is possible that someone got hold of her key, forged her name and got access to the box. Again, the card may offer you some clues if this happened.

It is extremely unlikely that the bank took the money since the lock was not changed when the fee was never paid. If you are still not convinced, contact the Virginia Department of Financial Institutions to see if they can help you track down the money. Their phone number is 804-371-9657.

Email Harry Gross at or write to him at Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, Box 8263 Philadelphia, PA 19101. Harry urges all his readers to give blood — contact the American Red Cross at 800-Red Cross.

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