There is often confusion about what should go in a safe deposit box.
Some people think it is for “important documents.” While there may be truth to that, you do not want to put all important documents in a safe deposit box. For example, original documents that need to be accessed in cases of emergency, such as a living will or medical directives, should be kept with your lawyer for easy access.
Here is an easy guide of what you should put in your safety deposit box:
- Official Original Family Documents that are difficult to replace such as a birth certificate, marriage certificate, or divorce certificate. Different states have different procedures for replacing documents like this, but they all seem the follow the same general principle: it’s not fun. Save yourself a lot of time, energy, and frustration by keeping them in your safe deposit box. Since these are documents that you do not use often or do not need on a regular basis, this is a perfect place for them. Under the category of other important original documents you don’t need to access often are: citizenship papers, military records, and adoption records.
- Duplicate Copies of Emergency Documents, while best kept with your lawyer or someone similar, could be used as a basis to draft new documents. Whether or not duplicates have legal standing depends on many variables and is complicated but it is better to have duplicates of these documents in your safe deposit box than to not have duplicates at all.
- Insurance Documents and related documents such as those outlining possessions related to the policies are important documents to have in your safe deposit box because they would be lost in your home in a flood, fire, earthquake, or other natural disaster.
- Property Documents like property deeds and titles, mortgage documents, property surveys, and other such related items are recommended to keep in your safe deposit box. These can be necessary in property disputes, which occur more than one might think. This category includes titles for not just for your home, but also for your car, which is almost impossible to sell without its title.
- Medical Documents like immunization records are required for admission to certain schools and places of work. Many people actually get the same immunization multiple times simply because they cannot remember if they got the immunization or because they do not have the records! Other important medical records (originals or copies as appropriate) should be kept too as in many cases they can get lost in the shuffle from doctor to doctor, office to office, and state to state (or even country to country) over the years and changes in technology and formats in which they are kept.
- Personal Mementos may or may not hold large monetary value, but it is not required that the items in a safe deposit box hold large monetary value. A letter from a loved one is something you would not want to lose, like a love letter from your grandfather to your grandmother or your mom’s engagement ring. In addition, we suggest you keep one prized childhood possession in your safe deposit box. Trips to your safe deposit box can often occur during emergencies and other anxiety producing events. Having a prized childhood possession in your safe deposit box can help you remember more lighthearted times during otherwise stressful moments.
- Contracts are important in business, not just for legal reasons but also for the sake of clarity: both parties involved have the agreement in black and white on a piece of paper rather than in their respective interpretations and memory of conversations. Contracts and other related documents such as copyright papers are great to keep in safety deposit boxes.
- Important Data including data stored on computer disks, USB drives, hard drives, compact disks, etc., as well as less technological data like negatives of photographs or original photographs, journals, or physical accounting books can be kept in a safety deposit box.
- Financial Documents like savings bonds, important bank records, retirement papers, pension papers, Social Security information, stocks, trust papers, etc. are perfect for safety deposit boxes.
- Small Valuable Items such as expensive jewelry, rare coins, collectibles, and antiques of a small size, can also be kept in your safety deposit box as you wait to decide on their permanent home.
Think of the safe deposit box as that “special place” we keep things that we don’t use often and may be lost if kept in our homes. At Oak Bank, we’re glad to have safety deposit boxes for our customers and are happy to consult with you on how you can best use yours.