Safety Deposit Boxes at your bank are important for keeping items that are difficult to replace. These are private, so not even the bank knows what is in them. Keeping items in a fire-proof safe in the house is not as good protection from theft, fire and flood. Many are only fire-proof up to a certain temperature.
Write down the date you open your safety deposit box and where it is located, in case you forget. Write down the contents of your safety deposit box and store in a file in case you are looking for a certain document. “Did I put the birth certificate in my safety deposit box or is it somewhere else?”
You usually get the best deal on a safety deposit box with your current bank or credit union. The usual cost per year is $30 to $75.
What should you keep in your safety deposit box?
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Social security cards
- Adoption records
- Death certificates
- Divorce records
- Child custody documents
- Military records
- Certificates of Deposit
- Insurance policies
- Expensive jewels
- Rare stamps
- Photos – and back ups of digital photos on CDs or DVDs, photo negatives
- Video and pictures of house with its contents for insurance purposes
- Copies of your driver’s license
- Copies of the contents of your wallet (front and back of cards) in case your wallet is stolen
- List of your credit card numbers
- Account numbers account numbers, balances, online banking ID’s & passwords. Deposit accounts, PayPal, eBay, ClickBank and anything else a family member would need to know in case they had to take over the finances.
- Copy of your will (not the original)
- Current credit reports
- Hard to replace items
Put these in air tight containers or zip locks to help prevent any damage in case something happens to the bank. Their vaults are highly resistant but not 100% guaranteed.
What not to keep in a safety deposit box
Safety deposit boxes are available only during bank hours so emergency items are not a good idea to store.
- Power of Attorney
- Medical directives
- Funeral Instructions
- Cemetery deeds
- Estate documents
Some states allow co-renters or family members to get wills out of safety deposit boxes. But other states require a court order, so check your state before putting your will in a safety deposit box. You can also get a co-renter for emergencies who will have access to your box. Or you can get an agent in the presence of the bank who will have access. Many times power of attorney does not give access to safety deposit boxes.
Law enforcement can obtain a court order if they suspect something illegal in your box. The IRS can also freeze your assets (Including your safety deposit box) in disputes.
See if your insurance will cover Safety Deposit boxes because the FDIC does not cover loss of these.
Make sure you know where your most important documents and valuables are.