Safe and Sound: The Smart Way to Use a Safe Deposit Box

Recent natural disasters have escalated residential safe sales, but are some papers safer at a bank? Here’s a guide to protecting your valuables.

If you are worried about the security of your valuables, you might be in the market for a safety deposit box. The New York Times reports that natural disasters, and the recession, have escalated sales for the residential safe industry since many people now want to keep their valuables at home.

There are advantages and disadvantages to consider when choosing where to keep your most important documents. While a bank’s box is less likely to be subject to burglary, fire, or water damage, it is also less easy to access. Additionally, some insurance companies will lower their premiums for items stored at the bank.  No matter your storage choice, here’s a look at what should and shouldn’t be locked in your deposit box:

Original documents including insurance policies; birth, marriage, divorce, and death certificates; deeds, titles, mortgages, leases; contracts; stocks; bonds; certificates of deposit; valuable, durable objects like jewelry, medals, rare stamps, coins, and other collectibles; photos of your home and its contents for insurance purposes; and anything else that is irreplaceable to you.

Anything that you might need at the last minute: Original documents including powers of attorney, living wills, medical directives, passports, funeral and burial wishes, and your will. You can put a copy of your will in a safe deposit box but keep the original elsewhere, because some states require a court order to open the safe-deposit box of a deceased person, and that can take time. The originals are better off at your home and with your lawyer.

Read The New York Times’ full story, “Sales of Home Safes Surge, Driven by the Recession and Recent Disasters

See also:
What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Hurricane
7 Things You Didn’t Know About Hurricanes

Source:, Early Bird Specials

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest