A Safe Deposit box is an easy, inexpensive way to take the weight of responsibility off your shoulders. The older we get, it seems, the more fancy baubles, valuable items and important documents we acquire. So, as a responsible property owner, you’ve probably considered how to protect your precious documents and family heirlooms.
Finding a safe, secure place to store those things can help you sleep a little easier at night. But is a safe deposit box really worth it? And what sort of things shouldn’t you lock away? That’s what we’re here to find out!
Three Advantages to Using a Safe Deposit Box
Your Valuables are in One Place
- There’s nothing like knowing exactly where to find all of your important documents, which is why a safe deposit box is so appealing to many people trying to secure their important possessions.
Reduced Possibility of Theft
- While nothing is 100% secure, a safe deposit box is pretty much as close as you can get. As long as your valuables are not at home, they cannot be stolen if your house is burgled. And if you’re still concerned about possible theft, you can even acquire safe deposit box insurance.
Protection from Weather-Related Damage
- Louisiana sees its fair share of storms. If you’ve ever experienced damage to your home, you know the stress of trying to locate your important items and getting them to high ground. Many banks deem their safes to be weather “resistant,” but it never hurts to waterproof your valuables in case of a natural disaster.
Three Disadvantages to Using a Safe Deposit Box
Many of the disadvantages of using a safe deposit box are the inverse bullet points of the advantages. While a safe deposit box is weather resistant, there is no guarantee that your documents are completely protected from damage in the event of a natural disaster (although you can decrease this risk by waterproofing your possessions beforehand). Similarly, while a safe deposit box protects you from theft at home, there have been cases of safe deposit theft. Here are three additional limitations to a safe deposit box:
You do not have 24/7 Access
- If you store anything in your safe deposit box that you may require in the event of an emergency, there is no guarantee that the bank will be open when you need to access your important documents. Additionally, if the owner of the box is deceased, it can take weeks for the family to gain access to the contents within.
Limited Storage Space
- If you’re anything like me, the idea of a secure spot to hold your valuables is enticing. You can probably come up with an extensive list off the top of your head. Unfortunately, a safe deposit box can only store so many things, which puts a limitation on what you can tuck away.
There’s Still a Key
- Great! You say. I’ve hidden all of my stuff away and I never have to think about it again. This is true, but you still have to think about and keep track of the key. If you happen to lose your key, you will need to have your safe deposit box drilled, which is time consuming and very expensive. If the only reason you want a safe deposit box is to not worry about keeping track of your belongings, take care to remember there’s still one very important item you cannot lose.
What to Keep in a Safe Deposit Box
If you’ve gotten this far and you’re considering storing one or two things in a safe deposit box, make sure to continue reading to make sure you’re keeping the right things in storage.
What to store:
When it comes to a safe deposit box, consider storing anything you do not need to access in an emergency and is taking up space, such as:
- Family heirlooms
- Copies of insurance policies
- Marriage certificates
- Divorce decrees
- Titles (house, cars, etc.)
- Paper bonds and stock certificates
- Expensive jewelry or artifacts
What not to store:
Anything you may need in the event of an emergency. Because you do not have access to a safe deposit box 24/7, it’s important never to store things to which you need immediate access. This includes:
- Cash (Although it’s not advisable to put cash in a safe deposit box, and some banks even prohibit storing cash.)
- Your Passport
- Medical or Funeral Directives
How Much do Safe Deposit Boxes Cost?
Most banks charge an annual fee for a Safe Deposit Box and the cost of the box depends on its size. All of the following sizes and costs are approximations.
- Small (between 2″Hx5″Wx12”L): Approximately $15-$25 per year
- Medium (4″Hx10″Wx12”L): Approximately $40-$65 per year
- Large (15″Hx22″Wx12”L): Approximately $185-$500 per year
Final Thoughts on Safe Deposit Box Security
Personally, I believe safe deposit boxes are extremely useful, especially to those who want a safe place to store important documents. In order to use yours to the best of your ability, I have one final tip to help you protect your valuables: Copies.
To completely avoid the slim possibility of theft or damage, safe deposit box users can choose to only store copies. This way you don’t have to worry about wondering where to find the documentation, and the copies will stay safe and secure.