Search


Subscribe to AFM


Subscribe to AllFinancialMatters
by Email

All Financial Matters

Promote Your Page Too

The American's Creed

Site Sponsors

Books I Recommend


AFM in the Media


Money Magazine May 2008

Real Simple March 2008

Blogroll (Daily Reads)

« | Main | »

What Belongs in Your Safe Deposit Box?

By JLP | June 25, 2006

Here’s a list of items that should be kept in your safe deposit box. I found this list in an out-of-print book titled “The Money Club” by Marilyn Crockett, Diane Terman Felenstein, with Dale Burg. Duplicates of the items marked with an “*” should be kept in your home financial files for quick reference. Make sure a responsible family member or friend is aware of your safe deposit box, where it is kept, and how to gain access to it, should something happen to you. Oh, and safe deposit box rental can be tax-deductible.

UPDATE: I added a copy of your will to the list (thanks to reader Stacey for the reminder!)

PERSONAL DOCUMENTATION

ϑ Marriage certificate

ϑ Copy of will

ϑ Birth certificate

ϑ *Copy of passport

ϑ *Copy of college degree

ϑ *Copy of professional license

ϑ *Copy of separation/divorce papers

ϑ Social Security Card

ϑ *Copy of health information (vaccinations, hospitalizations)

ϑ *Military records

REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY

ϑ *Deeds, titles, title insurance for home

ϑ *Deeds, titles, title insurance for any other property you own

ϑ *Deeds, title, title insurance for auto(s)

ϑ *Videotape/DVD inventory of house

ϑ *Copy of receipts for big-ticket items like furnishings

ϑ *Copy of homeowner’s insurance

ϑ *Copy of receipts for home improvements

ϑ *Coins, jewelry, etc.

FINANCIAL/BUSINESS

ϑ *Copy of employment contract

ϑ *Original stock certificates (if not held in street name, which is the recommended form of ownership)

ϑ *Original prospectuses and sales materials for any limited partnerships

ϑ *Bonds and Treasury securities (if not held in street name)

ϑ *U.S. savings bonds

Topics: Basics, Financial Planning, Organization | 52 Comments »


52 Responses to “What Belongs in Your Safe Deposit Box?”

  1. Brad Says:
    June 25th, 2006 at 5:17 pm

    A couple days ago, I found a terrific list similar to this What to Keep — Where to Store — When to Shred (and which items to copy and which professionals to share those copies).

    http://www.ricedelman.com/planning/basics/whattokeep.asp

  2. Stacey Says:
    June 26th, 2006 at 12:08 pm

    JLP, just wanted to call your attention to the deductibility of safe deposit boxes (SDB). If a taxpayer doesn’t itemize, it is not deductible. If a taxpayer does itemize, but his/her miscellaneous deductions (which include SDB) don’t exceed 2% of his/her AGI, then none is deductible. Example: AGI is $100,000, 2% would be $2000, so the sum of the miscellaneous deductions would have to exceed $2000 to have a tax benefit. And then, only the amount that exceeds the $2000 is listed as an itemized deduction. Of course this could be further reduced if AGI exceeds certain thresholds…

    Second, a KEY POINT to note is that a will isn’t recommended to be in the SDB. Which leads me to #3…

    Third, I’m content with a fire-proof safe in the house. Accessibility is great and it pays for itself in only a couple years. That’s where we store our will (besides having a copy with our executor and our attorney.)

    Fourth, with a safe in the house, I can store any backup disks/jump drives of my computer files. One great site I found during the year has home inventory software. It’s from the Insurance Information Institute and can be found at http://www.iii.org. Click on the free home inventory software and you’ll be ready to go! Customize the database by adding the rooms in your home and input the info from your receipts. Great project for rainy days! Start with the big $ items and work your way down, if this is too overwhelming. I periodically backup my work-in-progress home inventory database and put it in our safe. This will provide great support to our insurance company if the unthinkable ever happens.

    Lastly, it’s recommended to inventory what is in your SDB–(or safe)and leave a copy in the box and perhaps email a copy to yourself for the ultimate in safekeeping!

  3. Madame X Says:
    June 26th, 2006 at 12:44 pm

    I have had a fire-proof safe on my shopping list for so long. I’m going to have to print this post out and nail it to the wall until I JUST DO IT!

  4. SpeedQueen Says:
    June 26th, 2006 at 1:04 pm

    Madame X… or you could just run out to target after work or whatever… just a thought ;)

  5. Rob Says:
    June 26th, 2006 at 1:43 pm

    You may be right and that a fire-proof safe in the house is better than a safe deposit box (SDB). However, a couple of reasons to use a SDB are:

    1. SDB can’t be stolen
    2. Fireproof safes are rated to a specified temperature. Will they really protect your DVDs/CDs/VCR tapes?

    Currently, I only use a SDB, but I am thinking about purchasing a fire-proof safe and using both.

  6. Bill Says:
    June 26th, 2006 at 2:33 pm

    I would not trust a fireproof safe for protecting my important belongings from a fire. The low cost safes will help for small fires but a large enough fire (burn your house down type fire) or enough heat will destroy the contents inside of the safe (especially media). Personally, I would put the orginal items in a SDB and a copy in my fire proof safe for quick access. As far as security, I keep the fireproof safe in a locked file cabinet,in a locked closet, in my house. Technically, someone could still get to it if they really want to, but hey if they want it that bad they will find a way (I hope you have nothing that important in a small fireproof safe). Many of those safes are designed for quick portability. That being said anyone can pick that case up and be gone in a flash and they don’t need your key to get in.

  7. Filing Away » Irregular Payments Says:
    June 26th, 2006 at 3:32 pm

    [...] And what do I find in my newsreader today: JLP’s list of what to put in safety deposit box, along with a commenter directing me to this even more useful list of what to do with all those financial/personal papers I now have lying around. [...]

  8. Brant Says:
    June 26th, 2006 at 3:35 pm

    While I do think home safe/fireboxes are a good idea, my recent work with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans has made me appreciate off site back up in all it’s forms. We let the water drain out of the firebox we found before giving to the fire department for safe keeping. I am just about done making a high quality back up of my much loved music collection, photos, scans, and other docs will be going to a couple of brothers in different cities. It’s easy to try to get geeky planning the ultimate solution, but remimber that a B grade solution actually done, beats the pants off of a the ideal plan we all mean to get too.
    -Rock On.

  9. Calibrated Vagueness Says:
    June 26th, 2006 at 3:40 pm

    What Belongs

    Lifehacker is running a piece on what to put in a safe deposit box, linking to AllFinancialMatters’ bit on the same thing.  A little Googling seems to turn up a lot of somewhat conflicting information about the same thing – see eHow, Bankrate and Fin…

  10. Dejected Resistance » Blog Archive » links for 2006-06-27 Says:
    June 26th, 2006 at 7:22 pm

    [...] AllFinancialMatters » Blog Archive » What Belongs in Your Safe Deposit Box? (tags: backup business gtd home howto lifehacks tips) [...]

  11. Edoc Says:
    June 26th, 2006 at 7:26 pm

    Last I checked at my local bank, a (reasonably-priced) safe-deposit box was ridiculously small. I don’t recall the exact dimensions, but it was like 2′ x 4″ by 3″ which is big enough to put a roll of wrapping paper in an nothing else.

    In other words, there is no way even a fraction of the proposed list would fit in it. I looked into getting one to store my life insurance and deeds, but it was clear that even my life insurance docs couldn’t be rolled up and inserted into this thing.

  12. Keith Cash Says:
    June 26th, 2006 at 9:35 pm

    Good article. I will use the suggestions.

    I agree with Edoc and the reasonably priced safe-deposit box is just too small.

    I guess a fire proof safe might come in handy.

  13. O'DonnellWeb Says:
    June 26th, 2006 at 11:17 pm

    links for 2006-06-27

    pearls21221420060626.gif (GIF Image, 600×203 pixels) Dude, you got a newt! (this is funny) (tags: humor funny) The Power of…

  14. What to keep safe? at Zyca Says:
    June 26th, 2006 at 11:45 pm

    [...] read more | digg story [...]

  15. William Parker is Wearing Black » Blog Archive » Bank Deposit Box Says:
    June 27th, 2006 at 12:41 am

    [...] This site provides you with a rather long list of critical items you should have in a safe deposit box. This whole time I thought only a handful of items where worth its cost, but this is quite an extensive list. [...]

  16. What to keep in a safe deposit box - davecentral Planet David Central & Dave Central Planet Says:
    June 27th, 2006 at 1:32 am

    [...] I’m curious – how many of you have a safe deposit box? If you do have one, what do you keep in it? Let us know in the comments or at tips at lifehacker.com. — Adam Pash What Belongs in Your Safe Deposit Box? [AllFinancialMatters] [...]

  17. Bond Says:
    June 27th, 2006 at 2:19 am

    Don’t forget a Walther PPK with a fully loaded clip, approximatley 100K in a combination of dollars, euros, yuan, and yen, and fake passports for various countries of interest around the globe. That should do it : |

  18. Stacey Says:
    June 27th, 2006 at 11:09 am

    Just a follow up to some comments…

    Although a really nasty conflagration may beat our fireproof safe, I’ll live with the odds given its location within our home, knowing the fire dept is within 2 miles of our home, and trusting that the worst of the fire would be extinguished within 1-2 hours (these would mitigate our being on the losing end of the bet.) There are different ratings, so if this is a major concern for anyone (wildfire path) choose your safe judiciously, if you pursue that path.

    RE: theft (being carried off…) Sure it could happen, but it’s a big #)@!%$, and good luck to whomever would want to try. And we live in a low-crime area. Actually, I don’t know what anyone would want out of our house…electronics? (Our stuff is definitely not state of the art), we don’t have any gaming stuff (prefering our boys occupy themselves in other ways), and I’m not big on jewelry. Nor do we have expensive art or collectibles. And we don’t keep money in the house (the boys have more in cash than we do!) Guess my linen closet would be stripped and my not-so-extensive CD collection might be swiped. They can take my pots and pans…But I digress…

    RE: data backup in the safe. Yes, I realize fire could wipe it out, that’s why I occasionally leave a copy w/my folks. I’m more concerned about tornadoes and lightening strikes in my neck of the woods. Perhaps I should bury a copy in the backyard?!!

    RE: the comments about the small sizes of the SDB–that’s exactly what prompted us to buy the safe!

  19. missmanytoes Says:
    June 27th, 2006 at 11:42 am

    As I understand it, in FL and maybe in other states, items stored in a SDB are not insured against loss. I’d check with your bank. If I have a loss from my fire resistant safe, which weighs 800lbs empty and is bolted to the floor to stop any burglar from removing it from my premises, my homeowner’s policy will cover that. The things I put into the safe are things of high sentimental value and things of high monetary value and important papers such as birth certificates, passport, etc. I have duplicates of the important papers (except for the passport, of course) stored at my workplace. If you buy a safe, get one that is at least half again as large as you think you need (you always find stuff to stuff into the safe) and get a dehumidifier for it. Mold is not a pretty thing.

  20. Danny Wahlquist Blogsome Blog :: What Belongs in Your Safe Deposit Box? :: June :: 2006 Says:
    June 27th, 2006 at 1:07 pm

    [...] from http://allthingsfinancialblog.com/2006/06/25/what-belongs-in-your-safe-deposit-box/ Comments » [...]

  21. Aggregating the fascinating » Blog Archive » Vital Papers Says:
    June 28th, 2006 at 8:20 am

    [...] Here’s a list of what you should keep in a safe deposit box, or at least in a fireproof safe in your home. [...]

  22. ib Says:
    June 28th, 2006 at 4:21 pm

    if you are purchasing a safe, should be rated for at least 2hours (or more) burn time.

    cheapo-frugal version is to use the freezer to store the valuables. they are likely to be at least if not more safe than in the safe should a disaster hit…

  23. I like your style » Blog Archive » Sympatrucs 20060628 Says:
    June 29th, 2006 at 1:23 am

    [...] AllFinancialMatters » Blog Archive » What Belongs in Your Safe Deposit Box? Que mettre à la banque ? (tags: sécurité) [...]

  24. Bob Smith Says:
    July 2nd, 2006 at 2:02 pm

    While a personal SDB isn’t really tax deductible, remember that a *business* SDB is 100% tax-deductible.

  25. Gary Slinger » links for 2006-06-28 Says:
    July 4th, 2006 at 6:40 pm

    [...] AllFinancialMatters » Blog Archive » What Belongs in Your Safe Deposit Box? (tags: security finance organization preparedness planning) [...]

  26. Free Hogg. » Blog Archive » links for 2006-07-08 Says:
    July 7th, 2006 at 9:19 pm

    [...] AllFinancialMatters » Blog Archive » What Belongs in Your Safe Deposit Box? A list of things you should include in your safe deposit box (tags: money security) [...]

  27. lemasney.com » Blog Archive » links for 2006-06-27 Says:
    July 7th, 2006 at 9:45 pm

    [...] AllFinancialMatters » Blog Archive » What Belongs in Your Safe Deposit Box? Here’s a list of items that should be kept in your safe deposit box. I found this list in an out-of-print book titled “The Money Club” by Marilyn Crockett, Diane Terman Felenstein, with Dale Burg. Duplicates of the items marked with an “*” shoul (tags: collections_lists_databases life_and_lifehacks) [...]

  28. C.Carl Says:
    July 27th, 2006 at 6:18 am

    But The list of the items kept in the box should be kept safely http://www.loans11.co.uk/

  29. Business & Finance » What Belongs in Your Safe Deposit Box? Says:
    August 15th, 2006 at 3:05 am

    [...] Here â��s a list of items that should be kept in your safe deposit box.read more | digg story [...]

  30. Betty Cramp Says:
    October 18th, 2006 at 8:16 pm

    Is it legally alright to have cash money in your deposit box?

  31. WearyTraveler Says:
    October 19th, 2006 at 4:46 pm

    To add to ib’s post. My brother is a retired Firefighter. He says that the fridge is usually the last thing to be destroyed (not counting safes etc…) so yes, I’d agree that we could store some things in there. But remember – don’t store it near the garlic (-:

  32. WearyTraveler Says:
    October 19th, 2006 at 4:49 pm

    I’ve rented a SDB for about the past 10 years. I keep my legal papers, bonds, inherited jewelry etc… in there. At $150 per year for a 4 by 6 SDB it’s looking mighty reasonable to go for the fireproof safe. After 2 – 3 years, the safe would pay for itself.

  33. The Digg Effect - Search for Diggs or get Dugg » What Belongs in Your Safe Deposit Box? Says:
    October 30th, 2006 at 8:10 am

    [...] Here ’s a list of items that should be kept in your safe deposit box.read more | digg story [...]

  34. melinda mcwilliams Says:
    November 1st, 2006 at 6:34 am

    how safe is a safe deposit box regarding bank employee theft and the security one must go through to access a safe deposit box. for example, my friend went to her and her partner’s safe deposit box after 2 years of having it and discovered the jewelry she had in it gone, no signature card was available, the employee who closed out the account left bank. it could have been her son who used his father’s signature to gain entrance in addition to finding the keys. found out that bank employees don’t check id unless signatures don’t match on signature card. a son or daughter can easily imitate a parent’s signature, at least i can. any stats on safe deposit boxes safety. thank you.

  35. Robert Says:
    December 5th, 2006 at 3:53 pm

    I no longer trust banks and safe deposit boxes (put cash in, think some disappeared). Just cause you think it is locked doesn’t mean it is. (I’ll still use one though). I like the suggestions above to put papers and jewelry and coins in the tape is a nice idea). Once in California the Earthquake destroyed the bank where my safe deposit box was and it got moved 10 miles away to another branch.

    On a side note transcend Lawyers. Give your stuff directly to kids and grandkids (perhaps a joint account so when (if) you die there is no middleman). Lawyers cannot be trusted with your money. Really. (No one can).) (Some of our money is held in trust by a legal firm right now. No one will get it.)

  36. Moonchakka Says:
    March 28th, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    I keep my hamster in a safe deposit box when we go on vacation. I just take him to the bank and put him in the box with some food and water in little cups. When we get home I take him out again.

  37. jnwcmr Says:
    September 25th, 2007 at 10:52 am

    One other thing to consider…For both my fireproof safe, and Safety Deposit Box, I keep all contents in sealed freezer bags. They may be fire-proof, but I’ll bet not water proof. When the fire department comes, everything gets hosed. Literally! :) The bags may help things stay legible.

  38. Do You Know Your Stuff?—� AllFinancialMatters Says:
    October 24th, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    [...] I think this is a great idea. Another great idea is to go through your house inch-by-inch with a video camera. The video can be used as a reminder of what exactly you had should you ever lose anything in a fire or some other disaster. Just be sure that you keep a copy of the video in your personal safe or safe deposit box. [...]

  39. Alain Says:
    February 4th, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Why not store all those docs online? Supersafe and just as cheap, not to mention accessible around the world.
    Check out inyoursafe.com

    Disclaimer: I’m a small investor in said site

  40. cheap deposit safe Says:
    July 2nd, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    [...] [...]

  41. Amy W Says:
    July 18th, 2008 at 9:14 am

    As a lawyer…

    A copy of a will is useless. The court needs the original in order to probate it. And there should be only ONE original (not two, three, etc.), as multiple originals confuse the courts!

    The best place to store the original will is with the lawyer who drafted it (if you have one). Otherwise, most states allow you to deposit the original with the Register of Deeds at your local courthouse.

  42. Home Office Paper Clutter - To Keep or To Toss Says:
    August 5th, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    [...] Safe Deposit Box is a great place to keep important papers safe. Check out All Financial Matters for What Belongs in your Safe Deposit [...]

  43. Dealing with Disaster: A Brief Guide to Emergency Preparedness Says:
    October 21st, 2008 at 9:52 am

    [...] Important papers. I use one of those portable filing boxes to store our most important papers (insurance information, social security cards, birth certificates, employee benefits information, etc.). (Some of these documents may be stored in a safe deposit box.) [...]

  44. Warning Says:
    January 17th, 2009 at 7:14 am

    First: If you’ve ever seen a SDB you know most are made of thin materials. Fire is not what destroys your documents, when in a fire proof box, it is the heat, heat will turn your documents into ash and melt your precious metals right along with your digital media. Floods will also destroy your documents.

    Second: Not to mention you box is not completely safe from theft. If you think that you’ve the only set of keys then you are dumb. Think, When the government subpoenas the contents of your box, the bank is not going to let them destroy the box and its holding area, nor are they going to call you and wait for you to open the box. The bank will over the spare keys. NOTE: Make sure you take a picture of what is in your box.

    Third: FDIC does not insure your SDB. They only ensure money in your accounts. Trust Me on that one.

    Fourth: Digitize Every thing you can. GPG/PGP Encrypt it and keep the files in an online file storage vault.

    Fifth: Buy a gun protect your own goodies in a fire and water proof box. Buy vacuum food sealer and seal your important documents so they are water proof. Keep the Fire-Water proof box in the corner of the house. If your house catches on fire when the fireman arrives tell him that that corner of the house has your safe and keep it wet so it will burn as little as possible.

    Sixth: Digitally record your house contents and your safe contents. Make sure to hit the SN/Model numbers of your main valuables and upload those to an online file storage as mentioned in number 4

  45. Law Says:
    January 17th, 2009 at 7:16 am

    First: If you’ve ever seen a SDB you know most are made of thin materials. Fire is not what destroys your documents, when in a fire proof box, it is the heat, heat will turn your documents into ash and melt your precious metals right along with your digital media. Floods will also destroy your documents.

    Second: Not to mention you box is not completely safe from theft. If you think that you’ve the only set of keys then you are dumb. Think, When the government subpoenas the contents of your box, the bank is not going to let them destroy the box and its holding area, nor are they going to call you and wait for you to open the box. The bank will over the spare keys. NOTE: Make sure you take a picture of what is in your box.

    Third: FDIC does not insure your SDB. They only ensure money in your accounts. Trust Me on that one.

    Fourth: Digitize Every thing you can. GPG/PGP Encrypt it and keep the files in an online file storage vault.

    Fifth: Buy a gun protect your own goodies in a fire and water proof box. Buy vacuum food sealer and seal your important documents so they are water proof. Keep the Fire-Water proof box in the corner of the house. If your house catches on fire when the fireman arrives tell him that that corner of the house has your safe and keep it wet so it will burn as little as possible.

    Sixth: Digitally record your house contents and your safe contents. Make sure to hit the SN/Model numbers of your main valuables and upload those to an online file storage as mentioned in number 4

  46. heather Says:
    March 1st, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    When purchasing a fireproof safe for your home keep in mind that fire proof does not mean water proof!! I have friends who have had items destroyed by the smoke and water damage associated with a fire in their apartment building….the fire never actually hit the safe, but the smoke and water destroyed everything.

  47. I’m getting a safe-deposit box. at The Wiser Miser Says:
    April 7th, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    [...] you want to be able to access in case of an emergency, things you want to always be safe.  Here is a pretty good [...]

  48. Licia Says:
    May 12th, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Fireproof does not equal melt proof. Fireproof safes may prevent your items from bursting into flames but they will still get hot enough to melt CDs, backup tapes, jump drives, etc. They were designed and tested for protecting paper, not electronic data. Also, if your house burns or is wiped out in some other disaster, you may get access to the site in a timely manner plus your safe may be buried under a ton of rubble and not accessible anyway. That’s why offsite storage of important documents is recommended.

  49. jamalogist Says:
    May 14th, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    To everyone that thinks a firebox or safe is good enough — and that they live in a low-crime area, or have no valuables (videogames / jewelry / art): thieves who look for easy opportunities don’t know that. If they see a locked firebox, that is the first thing they will take. Same reason people snatch purses. It’s not important whether *you* have valuables in it — it’s important whether in general people store valuables in it.

    Let me tell you from experience — if you want a sure fire way to quickly lose your WILL, your PASSPORT, your 7yr TAX FORMS, your DIPLOMA, etc all in one shot — please, put them all in a firebox, make sure to lock it, and leave it close to the front door, preferably visible from the outside window.

    In conclusion — a firebox works against a fire. For everything else, there’s bolt-down safes, or safe deposit boxes.

  50. Natalie Barlow Says:
    June 14th, 2009 at 1:42 am

    We had a fire-proof safe in our house, with all important papers in it. Our house was broken into and one of the things that was stolen was our safe. So now all our papers are kept at the bank in a SDB. At the BofA we go to, the bank doesn't have a key to our box, we have the only keys. We don't need a bank clerk to let us in, we put our hand in a slot and it reads our hand, along with a secret code and the door unlocks and lets us in. .Some of the comments I've read say the SDB are too small, they come in all sizes..Lee

  51. Why treasures in safe deposit boxes get ‘lost’ « Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff) Says:
    September 14th, 2009 at 12:25 am

    [...] from jnwcmr: For both my fireproof safe, and Safety Deposit Box, I keep all contents in sealed freezer bags. [...]

  52. Jared Says:
    March 7th, 2010 at 1:00 am

    As a banker, I can assure you we do not have copies of keys for safe deposit boxes. If a box needs to be opened without keys (eg: because the customer lost the keys), the lock has to be drilled out of the box. It’s expensive and the customer pays.

    Secondly, there is no way whatsoever we could access someones box without them present. Our boxes are dual-keyed. They require a key that a bank employee has, and the key that the customer has. The box cannot be opened without BOTH keys in the box at the same time.

    I can’t vouch for all banks; it may be prudent to ask your bank what security measures are in place for their safe deposit area, if you are concerned.

Comments