Safety deposit boxes are considered one of the safest places to store things. It is true that a locked box deep within a bank vault will usually be safer than any place within your home. However, there may be times when a safety deposit box may be too safe. Here's what you should and shouldn't keep within your safety deposit box.
Should Not: Your Will
You should not keep your will within a safety deposit box unless it is just one of several copies. The reason is that the process for a family member to access your safety deposit box is long and complicated.
You don't want your estate's probate to be delayed while your family is caught in paperwork trying to get your will out of your safety deposit box. You should keep a copy of your will in a secure location within your own home where it can easily be found, with your lawyer, and with one or more trusted family members.
Should Not: Healthcare Proxies and Powers of Attorney
Like a will, these should not be stored within a safety deposit box. They are emergency documents that need to be accessed quickly.
Even if you had another family member added to your safety deposit box to avoid paperwork problems, it's still a bad idea to use a safety deposit box for storage. First, that family member could be out of town when the emergency happens. Second, safety deposit boxes are typically only accessible during very limited hours on a weekday, and you may need immediate medical care on a night or weekend.
Should Not: Cash
Cash should never be kept within a safety deposit box because it is not insured against loss. Deposit it into a savings account or other investment account, and use a payable on death beneficiary option if you want it to be quickly transferred to a family member upon your death.
Should: Deeds and Titles
Deeds and titles can be stored within a safety deposit box. These documents are never needed quickly.
Before your house or car can be transferred, your will or trust will need to be executed. By the time this happens, your family will be able to readily access your safety deposit box. Additionally, having the titles locked away could prevent unscrupulous family members from trying to wrongfully acquire the title before the estate is settled.
To learn more about what should and shouldn't be kept in a safety deposit box, talk to a local estate planning attorney such as David R Webb Attorney.