| Tue, Apr 04, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

What to Keep in a Safe Deposit Box

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

coin-collection-for-inhome-safe-deposit-boxStoring paper in a metal bank box may seem old-fashioned in the era of digital files and cloud computing. But it may still make sense for some people.

Safe deposit boxes offer protection from theft, fire, storms and floods. An in-home safe can, too, but banks are more heavily guarded than most homes. People who want to protect highly-valuable or irreplaceable items may feel better having them in a bank. Jewelry and family keepsakes may fit in this category.

Access is a key consideration when deciding which valuables to keep in a safe deposit box. A rule of thumb is: If you don’t need access to it for at least a month, put it in the box.

Originals of key documents may also be kept in a safe deposit box. These may include:

  • Birth certificates
  • Social security cards
  • Property deeds
  • Car titles
  • Paper bonds or securities

It’s a good idea to keep copies of key documents in a safe place at home, too. You might also store digital images of documents or irreplaceable photos on a secure web site. In any case, always back up important images kept on your computer.

You might think your original will and powers of attorney should be in a safe deposit box. But boxes are usually sealed when the bank receives a death notice. Your family or representatives may need court papers in order to open your safe deposit box. This can take time.

Items you may want to keep in a safe at home include:

  • Original will and powers of attorney
  • Property insurance policies and agent contact information
  • Financial papers and account information
  • Passports
  • Digital files of family photos
  • Living wills and health care proxies
  • Safe deposit box keys
  • Emergency cash

Decisions about a safe deposit box and other ways of getting your affairs in order are personal. What’s right for you may be different from what might be right for a relative or friend. You may want to discuss your situation and needs with a lawyer, financial advisor or other trusted professional. You can also watch this video about making plans.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.


Getting Your Affairs in Order: Get help from the National Institutes of Health.

Care and Planning for End of Life: Watch this video for end-of-life planning.

Medicare.gov: Visit the official U.S. government site for Medicare.


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