Safety deposit boxes are a key element in protecting your valuables. The level of security employed at a bank is typically higher than that at home. It’s a really good way to store those valuables that you’re most worried about losing. But there are some circumstances that cause certain items to be unideal for storage in safety deposit boxes. One important factor to consider is that banks have very particular hours. They aren’t open much on weekends (in some cases not at all), and they’re closed on holidays, too. So you definitely don’t want to store anything that you might need in a case of an emergency or anything that you would use frequently on holidays. We’ve put together a specific list of things you should never put in your safety deposit box as well as some tips on what you can store in there instead.

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Don’t

  • Your will
    If you are the only one who has access to your safety deposit box, it will be very difficult for anyone to open it again after you are dead. Your loved ones and attorney will need to go through a lengthy process to get the court to issue a court order to open the box. This can really interfere with the wishes you have for your estate and etcetera to be settled in a timely manner that follows the instructions in the will.
  • Cash
    When you store cash in your safety deposit box, it doesn’t earn interest, and it’s not insured (unless you purchase insurance for your deposit box on your own). For purposes of keeping an emergency stash of cash around, the safety deposit box is simply not as accessible as other alternatives.
  • Passports
    These official documents verify your identity and are needed to travel across country borders. Because travelling so often happens around holiday seasons, we don’t recommend that you keep these in the deposit box. If you happen to forget about it until the last minute, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to access it.
  • Social Security Cards
    Again, because these are official documents that you may need to prove your identity in an emergency, you want to have these close to you and accessible at a few moments’ notice.
  • Spare Keys
    Whether they’re spares for cars or property or anything else, spares are good to have on hand. You don’t want to have to wait for the next business day at the bank to unlock your car.

Do

Here are some things that fit very well in safety deposit boxes:

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Insurance policies
  • Property deeds
  • Rare collectibles
  • Expensive jewelry
  • Family heirlooms
  • Foreign currency

Tips and Alternatives

So where should you put those things that you aren’t putting into your safety deposit box? Well a great alternative is to have a safe at home. The ideal safe for your home would be one that is fireproof and also bolted to the ground or wall. If not bolted, it should at least be very, very heavy. Safes are obvious targets for home burglars; if it’s light enough, they’ll just lift it and bust it open later.

Another alternative is to hide a plain box (or other type of safe) somewhere inconspicuous. If you can find a place in children’s’ rooms where they can’t access it, that would be a really smart location, since burglars rarely look for things of value in kids’ rooms.

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When you do store something in a safety deposit box, choose a box that is high off the ground to avoid damage from possible flooding, waterproof all your belongings in tupperware or zipper bags, and never keep any identifying information with your keys to the safe. Don’t keep the box number, password, bank name, your name, or bank location on the keychain or nearby where you store it.

Protect your belongings in a safe and smart way so that you can rest easy knowing your most valuable possessions are secure. Share this with your friends and neighbors who currently have or are considering renting a safety deposit box!