Safe Deposit Box: A Confession

I have a confession to make. A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away my wife and I rented a safe deposit box. And we still haven’t put any of our really important stuff in it. That’s right, it’s been close to a year since we took the plunge and got a box, but we still haven’t updated our will, and I still haven’t created that personal finance ‘user manual’ that I’ve been meaning to put together. Our impending move has taken the wind out of our sails as far as the will goes (even though it was one of our very few New Year’s resolutions), as different states have different states have different laws, and we’d likely need to redo it as soon as we move (yeah, I know, lame excuse). So… Our safe deposit box currently contains a DVD backup of our digital pictures and our Disney World tickets.

15 Responses to “Safe Deposit Box: A Confession”

  1. Anonymous

    It is okay to have drive and ambition but do not sett the expectation
    that you deserve to be in management shortly after graduating
    from university. Royal Bank had an advantage that in the smaller towns it wass the only bank, so people had noo choice.
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  2. Anonymous

    In any case, you should never put a will in a safe deposit box. They are sealed after death. Have your lawyer and executor keep copies for safety.

    In this era, a fireproof safe is probably the best way to go. There are also theft proof safes, but fire is a greater threat to most documents.

    My father, back in the day, used to store stock certificates and coupon bonds in a safe deposit box. That function is now moot, given book entry and on-line access.

    One might also consider scanning documents such as tax returns (if they have not been prepared using a tax program.)

  3. Anonymous

    Actually, many states (approx 31) have a provision to deal with this. A person in posession of the key and a valid death certificate can generally access the box soley to remove any will, trust, or other related documents. A copy of the document must remain in the safe deposit box.

  4. Nickel

    Yes, that works if you’re a co-signer on the box. But if not, then there’s no way in other then to notify them that the owner died, at which point the box is sealed until the courts order it be opened.

  5. Anonymous

    If the only person who is on the signature card for the box is dead, then of course no one else can get into it without a court order. However, you should put someone else you trust on the signature card for the box; at the very least the executor of your estate. I am guessing the rules are different from bank to bank and state to state, but I am used to two keys being given out. One you have in a safe place for yourself alone. The other is to be kept in a separate safe place that the other people know about and can get to, but do not necessarily have it in their direct possession. Also, remember if you ever need to close a box due to a move or whatever you will need to return both keys to the bank; otherwise there will probably be a service charge.

  6. Paul, that’s a great point. In most (all?) states, safe deposit boxes are sealed upon the owner’s death, and can only be opened upon a court order. Thus, sticking the only copy of your will in your safe deposit box can really slow things down.

  7. Anonymous

    I see several people above mention putting their will in their safe deposit box. In general, this is a bad idea, since the box may be sealed at the time of death, and the will inaccessible. Your lawyer should have a copy of your will, and keep one at home. If you want, keep one in the box, but not the only one.

  8. Anonymous

    The reason I don’t have one is probably irrational, but I worry the bank might just suddenly close and I would not be able to get my important papers back!

  9. Anonymous

    I have one, but use it only for certain confidential business records. (Of course, since I’m the managing partner and principal owner of the business, that might be classified as “personal finance”…but most people’s personal finances aren’t very concerned with such things as customer identity and credit card data. 🙂 )

    Since I’m single without kids, my will is pretty simple. “If I die before my life gets interesting enough to replace this with a more complex will, everything I own goes to Catholic Charities.” It’s in legalese, but that’s what it says. Doesn’t seem worth storing in a safe deposit box…the copy my lawyer has is good enough for me. (Not to mention that, thanks to certain tax-avoidance arrangements with the business, I’ve deliberately made myself utterly paranoid about commingling business functions with personal ones.)

  10. Anonymous

    At this point, I would assume that you are going to close out the deposit box and get a new one when you move, correct?

    You are in better shape than I am, though. I still do not have a safety deposit box in the first place, let alone a blueprint for what to do if something happens to me.

    Assuming everything goes well I will have bought my first house in two weeks; maybe once I’ve done that I will look into getting a safety deposit box.

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