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Safe Deposit Boxes


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A Safe-Deposit box is a sturdy metal container in a bank's secure vault which is accessible only to the holder and people the holder specifically authorizes. Each box requires two keys to open. One key is held by the customer. The other key is held by the bank.

Safe-Deposit Boxes are available in a variety of sizes and are generally rented on an annual basis.

A safe-deposit box is probably the safest and most private place to store important papers and valuable items such as jewelry. However, it is not the appropriate place to store all important papers.

Jewelry and other valuable items stored in a safe deposit box should be insured. In spite of the safety factor, safe-deposit boxes are loss-resistant, not loss-proof. Safe deposit boxes get robbed, floods happen, buildings collapse etc. 

If you give someone else a Durable Power of Attorney, he or she generally is given the right to open your box if he or she has the key. A power of attorney ends upon the grantor's death. 

If you store documents, investment property or securities documents in the safe-deposit box, the rental can be clamed as a deduction for income tax purposes.

As a general matter, banks lock a safe deposit box when one of the renter's of the box dies. A locked-up safe deposit box is referred to as "sealed."  A  box which is sealed, cannot generally be opened without the presence of a representative of the local taxing authority. If you do not want your safe-deposit box to be sealed upon your death, consider using an entity such as a corporation to rent the box. Generally, safe-deposit boxes registered in a corporate name are not sealed upon the death of a principal.


  • Contents in a safe deposit box are safe if the bank fails.
  • Keep a list of what is in your box, and note the location of the box and keys. Let the person who will administer your Will know where the list is kept. (Update the list at least once a year, or as you add or remove contents). 

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