4 Items That Should Not Be In A Safe Deposit Box
A bank or credit union safe deposit box is often considered the perfect place to keep valuables safe. This is generally true. However, though it appears that anything you want to secure (documents, jewelry, coins, collectibles, etc.) should be placed here for safe-keeping, it is not ideal for certain items.
A few things to also consider before placing items in a safe deposit box
- Only you and a co-signer have access to your box. This is not good if you or they are unable to get to the bank when you need the items.
- According to The American Bar Association, some states seal the box when the owner dies. Heirs might need a court order to gain access, which could cause a delay in settling an estate or having health/last wishes ignored.
- You might not be able to access your box if you need an item on a day or during hours that the bank is not open.
Before discussing the items that should not be in your safe deposit box, we want to mention that safe-deposit boxes are not insured. Unfortunately, some think that because their bank or credit union accounts are federally insured, items in the boxes are as well. They are not.
Many homeowners policies provide minimal coverage, so you’ll most likely need to add an endorsement to your policy. Though rare, boxes do get tampered with or destroyed in a fire or flood. Without proper insurance, it could result in a major loss due to uninsured or underinsured items. Check with your insurance agent to verify you have sufficient coverage.
What items should not be placed in a safe deposit box
- Originals of your personal directives (will, living will, and durable power of attorney) – These documents are of no value if your executor or caregiver cannot access your safe deposit box. Instead, keep them in a fireproof safe at home and inform your executor or trusted family member where they are. Also be sure they know where the key is located, or the combination, whichever applies. It wouldn’t hurt to keep a copy of these documents in the safe deposit box as a backup in case your documents are destroyed in a fire or natural disaster.
- Emergency funds – Since items in a safe deposit box are not insured by the FDIC, large amounts of money are safer in a bank or credit union account. Keep your emergency cash supply locked up in your safe or other secure place at home.
- Valuables not yet inventoried – Keeping valuables such as collectibles, jewelry, etc., in a safe deposit box is a good decision. However, create an itemized list and take photos before you place them in the box, along with copies of the appraisals and certificates of authenticity.
- Home inventory documents – If you have a loss, you will need your inventory documents immediately to help you file your claim. If the loss is caused by a natural disaster, a safe deposit box might not be accessible due to power outages, road closures, or the bank not being able to open. You will be distraught and have difficulty remembering everything you owned. Ask your home inventory professional if they have a backup service to hold your inventory files. This will ensure that you’ll have access to your inventory documents immediately. If you did your own inventory, keep the originals in a fire proof safe or at another location. Keeping a copy of your inventory in the safe deposit box will serve as a backup if your originals are misplaced or destroyed.
Safe deposit boxes serve a great purpose and are extremely beneficial for securing your valuable items. However, before placing items in one, think about the “what ifs” to ensure it’s the right place for them.