Beginners Guide to a Safety Deposit Box

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Have you ever considered storing your important documents and prized possessions in a more safe and secure environment – like a safety deposit box? 

If so, you probably have some questions about how a safety deposit box works, what you can and cannot put into it, and who would and would not have access to it.  

In this beginner’s guide to safety deposit boxes, we’ll answer these common questions and more. 

Items that You Shouldn’t Put in a Safety Deposit Box

The bank which issues you a safety deposit box account will have you sign a contract agreeing not to put certain items into your safety deposit box.  Usually, these restricted items include anything considered to be potentially dangerous or illegal. 

Furthermore, it is important to avoid putting anything into your safety deposit box that you may need to quickly access in an emergency situation – as the box cannot be accessed during non-banking hours. 

For example, do not store your passport, funeral or burial instructions, or power of attorney documents in your safety deposit box. 

Who can Access Your Safety Deposit Box?

When you sign a lease agreement for a safety deposit box with the bank, you can include a list of people who may also access the box.  You will need to provide the bank with their signature to complete the authorization process.

However, regardless of how many people actually have been authorized to access to your safety deposit box, most banks will only provide you with 2 sets of keys.  It is strongly recommended that you keep the 2 sets of keys in two separate locations.

When either you or someone else on this list approved access list needs to access your safety deposit box, most banks will ensure that bank employee is present to help you open the safety deposit box.  However, once the box has been opened, the bank employee should immediately leave the room so that you can privately review the contents of the safety deposit box.

It is important to note that granting an individual with power of attorney does not allow that individual to gain access to your safety deposit box.  Additionally, law enforcement officials are required to secure a court order to gain access to your safety deposit box.

Financial Benefits to Having a Safety Deposit Box

There are a few financial benefits to having a safety deposit box.  For example, insurance companies will typically lower your premium if your valuables are stored in a safety deposit box.

It is also important to note that if you use the safety deposit box to store investment purchases such as bonds, coins, or gold bullion, you can write off your yearly safety deposit box “rent” as a tax deduction. 

All told, storing important items and documents in a safety deposit box is a smart choice for anyone who wants security and peace of mind.