What Not to Store in a Safe Deposit Box?

Safe deposit boxes are useful storage for irreplaceable valuables such as stock certificates, heirlooms, title deeds and family records. But a safe deposit box is the worst place to store items you might need quickly, or when the box holder has died. Find out below what not to put in your safe deposit box.

Original Will and Power of Attorney

When you have passed away, your spouse or partner and your executor will need the originals of these two documents immediately. Upon your death, your safe deposit box will be sealed for the time it takes to get a death certificate and verify the will. A court order will probably be needed to release them. It is a good idea, however, to put a copy of the will in your safe deposit box, clearly marked as a "copy". File the originals in a home safe or with your lawyer.

Medical Instructions for Long Term Care or Resuscitation

Medical instructions about your care as you age, or about life-sustaining measures to take if you are in an accident, may be needed very suddenly. Put a copy of these instructions in your safe deposit box, but leave the originals with your lawyer or a trusted family member.

  • Passport,
  • Birth Certificate
  • Personal Identification

All of the aforementioned may be needed quickly, or at times when the bank is not open. By all means put copies of all personal ID in your safe deposit box, in case of fire, theft or flood damage to your home. Ensure they are unmistakably indicated as copies.

Cash in Large Amounts or Big Bills

Never store cash in your safe deposit box. Large amounts of cash should be deposited to a GIC for safekeeping, and should accrue interest.

Put In the Box:

  • Valuables, Collectibles and Other Irreplaceable Items
  • These should go in the safe deposit box, but photograph them, and write a detailed description before putting them in the box. This will help you identify them and prove ownership if they are damaged, lost or stolen. Leave a copy of the photos in a home safe or with your lawyer.
  • Keep jewelry, medals and fragile collectibles in their original boxes when storing.

Original Stock and Bond Certificates

  • Copy the originals before putting in the safe deposit box. Leave the copies with your financial advisor or lawyer. If the originals are destroyed due to fire or flood, you will need to pay a substantial fee to get new originals issued.
  • Safeguard the Safe Deposit Box Contents
  • Wrap all paper documents, including the contents checklist, in resealable plastic bags before putting in the box. This will prevent water damage from sprinkler systems in a fire, or from flooding of the basement vault.

Suspected Theft

If the box appears tampered with when you get it, report it immediately. Do not try to open it. If, when you open it, items are missing, report the suspected theft to the bank manager. Be sure bank employees follow regulations about handling your safe deposit box. If they behave suspiciously, report them at once.