What to keep in a safe deposit box and what not to keep

maifleur01

My first post went to never never land. I would include Medicare Cards along with Social Security Cards. Link at bottom.

"There are some documents you may not want to keep in a safe deposit box in case you or your heirs need to access them quickly. Don't keep these documents in a safe deposit box:

  • Cash.
  • Passports.
  • Drivers' licenses.
  • Social Security cards.
  • The original copy of your will.
  • Health care directives, such as a living will.

First, you don't want to store documents that you may need unexpectedly, such as your passport or Social Security card. The risk is that, at the moment you need one of these documents, the bank won't be open, and you'll have to wait until the next morning or the start of the next week to get access.

When it comes to estate-planning documents, such as your will, the decision to keep them in a safe deposit box is a bit more complex. "We do not recommend to clients to keep wills in safe deposit boxes," wrote Gerry Joyce, managing director and national head of trusts and estates at Fiduciary Trust Company International in New York City, in an email. Doing so may cause a "chicken and egg" scenario in which the safe deposit box can only be opened by the executor, but the executor can't be appointed by a probate court without the original will, Joyce says. "We often prefer to see the client leave the original will with their attorney or in a fire-proof safe at home," Joyce says.

State law determines how banks provide safe deposit box access to heirs or executors, says Jennifer Guimond-Quigley, an attorney in Chicago. "As long as the process is followed, the bank is supposed to remove the will and file it with the court," she says. It's worth it to check with your bank or estate-planning attorney to verify that your heirs will be able to find and access your will if it's in a safe deposit box. She agrees that keeping a will in a sturdy safe at home, or even at your attorney's office, may make accessing it more simple for your heirs.

The same logic applies to documents your family may need if you fall seriously ill. Living wills and medical powers of attorney should be stored in a secure place to which your family has ready access."

https://money.usnews.com/banking/articles/what-should-i-keep-in-a-safe-deposit-box

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maifleur01

There are probably other things that people could post that they needed. In my situation to claim my husband's Social Security which was more than mine I needed my birth certificate and Marriage License.

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littlebug zone 5 Missouri

I can verify that you shouldn’t have originals of health care directives in the safe deposit box. When my uncle was on his deathbed, paramedics had to give lifesaving measures unless they were presented with his original signed Living Will. In Missouri, anyway.

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jemdandy

Don't keep the key to the safe box in the safe box.

If you keep original keys to your house, sheds, cars, etc. in the box, make sure that you have copies elsewhere.

Keep a copy of your will in the box, but maybe the original should be in a location accessible to your estate executor. He/she may need the will to gain access to the box.

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nickel_kg

I understand originals of wills & medical directives; that makes sense. And I'll check with my credit union about access to our box in event of death(s).

Under what circumstance might I need emergency access to passport, birth certificate, marriage license, car title, etc? The only thing I can think of is if we needed to travel outside the country unexpectedly, like if a relative was traveling and taken sick ... but for our family that's not likely to happen because we rarely leave the USA. Anything else likely to happen that can't wait for regular business hours?

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maifleur01

nickel if one of you dies the bank/credit union may not allow you to access the box. It is not a question of waiting for regular business hours but waiting until a judge somewhere appoints an Executor which in some areas can be weeks. Without an Executor there is in most states no access to the safe deposit box.

Depending on how fast you receive a Death Certificate, someone may need those things to prove to any pension provider that a person is the legal spouse so that they may collect life insurance, start pension transfers etc. While I had my own income source for some that were stay at home spouses it could be a problem. To request my husband's pension and for his life insurance I had to provide my Marriage License, Death Certificate and my drivers license.

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gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

I don't know anyone that uses or even has a safe deposit box so I can't imagine anything important enough - other than gold bullion, very expensive jewelry or a valuable coin collection (none of which apply to anyone I know) - that would need to be stored in one. All my important papers are kept in a small fireproof file box in my office that family knows how to locate and access if necessary.

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dedtired

Malfleur is correct. My aunts and a safe deposit box together. One of them died. The other went to get something from the box ( jewelry?) and mentioned the death of her sister. When they heard that, the bank would not allow her to access the box. If she’d kept her mouth shut, she could have gotten what she needed.

My lawyer has copies of my will, etc so if my copies go up in flames I don’t think it matters.

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bpath Oh Sophie

Thank you SO MUCH for this topic, and I'm appreciating the related ones, as well. I am dealing with all of this for my parents who have had some health setbacks, but I also recall that I am my aunt's MPOA and she recently asked me to be her POA and executor when those times come. I'm going to call her today for her lawyer's contact information, bank info, where her important papers are.

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maifleur01

bpath and others I hope you are aware that POA's immediately stop upon the death of the person that authorized them. This is apparently not commonly known. You need to have a copy of the actual POA and read it as each state has their own quirks.

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Elmer J Fudd

I have mixed feelings about this topic. I think gardengal's point of view is relevant, having a safe deposit box is far less common today than in years past, probably because they're not so necessary.

Powers of attorney, personal property documents (wills and trusts), medical papers and the like should be in the possession of people who would use them, along with an extra one here and there as backup. Lawyers also typically keep executed copies. These days, much or all of this kind of paperwork is recognized in electronic form so scanned versions kept on backup storage media will work too.

I have a safe deposit box. I use it as "offsite storage" for an external hard drive with important files. Also in there are a few family birth certificates (randomly chosen because some are also at home), a small amount of unused family jewelry, etc. It's small and mostly empty. We probably don't need it.

With a living trust, no court or judge would ever typically be involved. If the decedent is married, I'll presume that bank and financial accounts are in joint form so that they can be used and accessed by the survivor. Pension payments public and private continue until the payors are advised of the death and so there should be no rush. The surviving spouse should have no need to be short of funds until the "administration" of the decedent's assets as an estate is put into place.


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maifleur01

As usual Elmer discounts those that do not have a lot of money. Especially for those female spouses that never worked all they may have as income is their spousal SS which is normally 50% of the amount the working spouse received.

Depending on the pension and when it was started there may not be any spousal amount or it may only be half of what was received by the spouse which is the way federal government now does. Any overage that would be sent would be reclaimed if it was not due to the spouse.

It was eight weeks before I could get an appointment to even apply for SS widows benefits, the amount my husband was drawing not the $225 for burial. For many especially widows that is a worry.

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Elmer J Fudd

Check the attitude at the door, please. I didn't discount anyone.

When someone dies, the money keeps getting put into the bank account as before and there's time to make adjustments. Again, it sounds to me you're relaying your one off experience, not professional knowledge of the area in general, and you seem to think what your experience was is what everyone experiences and is the only possibility.

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maifleur01

No Elmer but you certainly think everyone has enough money for your trusts which is what you always toss out there. Not everyone has enough money to put into a bank account much less a trust. My life has changed but I learned to listen to other people and not think that just because I had or did something everyone could do the same.

Perhaps in your area pensions are hundreds of thousands of dollars but in much of this country pensions are lucky to be a couple of thousand a month. Average SS is less than $1,700 a month and a never worked or never earned enough spouse can add half of that. I am writing for those that are not wealthy and have to worry about IF the money will be there. Apparently you have not known older people who have had to move in with family not because of health reasons but because their income is not enough to live any where other than with family.

I actually listen to the people when they talk to each other about their problems. Spend a morning at a Y in classes where people talk before and after. After health difficulties the inability to do anything because of lack of money is the most common topic. You need to get beyond your great job or my poor little job that gave me no experience even though I worked with financial operations during most of it which has little to do with anyone other than yourself and start opening your eyes and ears to the rest of the world. Especially the rest of the world that has some but are neither rich nor poor.

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nickel_kg

So other than a sudden death, are there other situations in which a person might require access to their documents without a day or two to plan?

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Elmer J Fudd

"You need to get beyond your great job or my poor little job that gave me no experience even though I worked with financial operations"

I spent many years of study, thousands of hours over decades of regular professional development and demanding professional practice to accumulate the knowledge I have and the professional credentials I earned. Yes, earned. There's no need for me to stand by when someone spreads uninformed views nor apologize for pointing out what I consider to be misinformation. Maybe you (or others) didn't have the opportunity to achieve what I did and as a result know less. Fine. But I also don't accept being shamed or belittled for it. You seem to know much less than I do about many subjects you talk about. I'll speak up when i see that from you or anyone else. It's you, not me, who could use more humility.

I've been specific about my technical credentials. What are yours?

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maifleur01

Elmer, Honey, if I ever stop laughing long enough I will give a serious reply. Until then enjoy your mountain of self righteousness.

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Mystical Manns

As often happens, this topic has veered off of it's original intent.

But, addressing a scenario by maifleur01,

DH died towards the end of a month. Altho I notified the Army and SS, both automatic deposits were made into the account. I knew they'd be rescinded, and they were, without advance notice. One took a couple of weeks, the other was maybe 10 days. If I hadn't been aware of that, I might have spent some of those funds.

It was over two months before either one straightened out and re-enstated deposits. So, over two months that I received less than half my accustomed income, and at a time when I was very much in an emotional state and not thinking as clearly as I could.

I was still working, and had my own income coming in, but it certainly wasn't enough to compensate for what was missing, especially at a time when doctor's bills and funeral expenses were occurring. I had to pick and choose what to pay while I waited for a withdrawal from my 401k to cover the larger expenses.

We lived a comfortable lifestyle, but had no access to immediate funds. Most of the people I worked with were in the same boat.

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maifleur01

Elmer I need to apologize for laughing at your comment. You seem to relate what knowledge and what people do to what their job/s were. Which is true for many men. Women are not restricted to what they know and do, except in certain instances, to any job that they have ever had. Men should not be but for some they are. Most learn all throughout their lives. Much of what we women learn is not learned for any job unless you consider living as a job. Women's knowledge is also not restricted to classes although I because I enjoy learning about many things used to take one or two classes college and other types each year after I graduated. My classes as they are for many women were for my enjoyment and to gain information on a wide variety of subjects. Want to know how some cultures make their own ink?

Last night I was reading about your beloved living trusts and most of the sites confirmed what I have been stating. There are things like bank accounts, pensions, and while most only mentioned IRAs or plans with a designated joint owner or beneficiary that all of the articles suggested that without a strong reason like a minor or disabled child or a person whose spouse or significate other would take the assets they should not be placed into a living trust. Anyone wanting to read about the do's and don'ts of living trusts can simply do a search using "Living Trusts" then if they want additional information they can contact an attorney or any other person that does financial planning. I suggest reading several sites as each one can present the information differently.

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maifleur01

Mystical you mentioned one of the things about reversals of various pension type payments that I was going to expand on but did not. For those that are not aware at one time SS sent payments in advance before they were earned. About the time my husband reached 65 late in 2007 SS reversed this policy and payments were sent if the recipient was alive for all of the previous month. This helped prevent the hardship caused when someone died and the payment was reverse. People older than my husband may still be in the group that was paid in advance and should expect the last SS deposit to be reversed even if that person died on the last day of the month. Families who are handling affairs of very older relatives need to be aware of this and wait to close accounts after that relatives death.

Now funeral homes are required to report deaths that they handle to SS rather than someone in the family reporting. Some funeral homes do it immediately others only once a month.

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Elmer J Fudd

Aptitude, professional competence and expertise don't have a gender component, I had plenty of female partners and colleagues over the years and I was known to be a mentor who made an extra effort to help women succeed. Everyone went through the same long process of accumulating professional and technical expertise. In our profession as well as others like law and medicine, competence didn't come from doing internet searches or chatting with other equally clueless amateurs with limited or no knowledge, at the Y or elsewhere.

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