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Safe Deposit Boxes

Additional Tips About Safe-Deposit Boxes

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Create a cyber-backup. Many banks offer what they call virtual safe-deposit boxes in which digital copies of documents can be stored. You can even do the same thing on your own website if you have one.

When renting a safe-deposit box:

  • Consider ease of access. People generally choose a box in a bank where they do their banking business which avoids an extra trip if you need to do bank business and access the box.
  • Choose a size appropriate to what you want to store in the box. The smaller the box, the less expensive.

Keep the key in a safe place, not on your key chain. If you lose your key, the lock has to be drilled out and replaced at your expense.

Seal in watertight plastic bags the contents in case the box gets flooded.

Keep handy a photo copy of all documents you store in your box in case you need to refer to the content in a document.

Be careful who you name as the other person authorized to access the box. Once named, the person has the right to enter the box at any time -- no matter what the two of you have agreed between you.

Pay the rent. If you don't, the state may seize the property as unclaimed property.

If you need to locate a safe deposit box, look for cancelled checks payable to a bank. Also contact banks located within walking distance of work and home. Watch the mail for a bill from a bank.  If all else fails, check your state unclaimed assets agency. When a safe deposit box goes unpaid for long enough, the bank will open the box and turn over the contents to the state.

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