If you're not an international spy and you don't have great wealth, do you need a safe deposit box?
Once you learn the facts about safe deposit boxes, maybe you'll discover that you really need one, or discover that you really don't. You might be surprised either way.
A safe deposit box is an inexpensive way to protect items that are important to you. If your house was robbed or destroyed by a fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, or other causes, would you lament the loss of certain items? If so, a safe deposit box might be your perfect solution.
What should you put in there?
Experts suggest storing marriage and birth certificates, insurance policies, foreign currency, deeds to property, rare coins, expensive jewelry, bonds, and stock certificates. Precious metals are commonly stored in a safe deposit box as well.
A good rule to follow is:
If you would be in big trouble if an item were lost, then you should put it in a safe deposit box.
One thing you should really consider is a backup drive with all of your files, photos, and videos. The last several years we’ve all been shooting images with digital cameras, camcorders, and our smartphones. I’ll bet you know someone that has lost their photos at least once due to a bad hard drive in their computer.
Backing up everything a couple of times a year and storing it in a safe deposit box is a good idea. You don’t want to keep your only copies of photos and important documents at home. A fire can destroy everything and you wouldn’t have any copies.
So think about this and other likely suspects and consider what would be better off stored at the bank instead of at home, such as:
* Your baseball card or stamp collection
* Your passport if you use it rarely
* Older family photo negatives or CDs of them (pre-digitial)
* Copies of backup disks for your computer containing all of your digital photos, videos, and documents
* Heirloom jewelry passed down through your family
What should you not put in there?
1. Cash. Cash is not insured in a safe deposit box, but it is insured in your bank account. If it's going to be in the bank anyway, you might as well put it where it will be insured against loss.
2. Will. A will is about the worst thing to put in a safe deposit box. Should you die, it will likely take a court order to get it out. Keep a copy with your lawyer and a copy for your own records. You can put a copy in your safe deposit box, but not the only copy.
3. Anything you need to access quickly. Banks aren't open 24/7 and anything you're likely to need on short notice might be better stored somewhere else. What if you need the item on a Sunday or after hours?
So a safe deposit box isn't the answer to everything. Keep cash, your will, and anything needed quickly somewhere else. A quality home safe might be a good option for some items if it’s fireproof, but you still want copies of photos, documents etc somewhere else.
Who should have access?
That's really up to you. Anyone you designate can have access. Choose wisely. It would be a good idea to designate someone to have power of attorney upon your death as well. That way, at least someone can get into the box when the time comes. It will make it easier on everyone.
Be sure to remember that anyone you specify will have access to your valuables. Be careful whom you trust.
What happens if something gets stolen?
Be aware that the government (FDIC) does not insure any of the contents of safe deposit boxes; they insure bank accounts. Your bank might insure the contents, so be sure to read the agreement before signing up. The problem becomes, though, how do you prove what was in your box? Again, read the agreement before storing your valuables.
Many homeowners' policies do cover the contents, however. Be sure to check with your insurance provider to see if you're covered and to what extent.
Safe deposit boxes aren't for everyone. Sit down with your spouse and determine if you have anything that should be stored securely outside your home.
Safe deposit boxes aren't extremely convenient. But neither is losing everything in a fire.