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Do I Need a Safe Deposit Box?

Safe Deposit Box

Safe deposit boxes, also called safety deposit boxes, are small safes stacked in groups and kept inside a bank vault or post office. It is unclear when safe deposit boxes first came into existence. However, the earliest archived mention of a safe deposit box is in 1841 in Switzerland at Rabobank, which took over Bank Sarason, one of Switzerland’s largest private banks. Safe deposit boxes are rented by users to provide an extra sense of security for valuables and important documents. This kind of box protects a person’s valuable and rare possessions in case of a fire or natural disaster.

Safe deposit boxes have several benefits. They are intended to protect your belongings from disaster, even if a disaster happens at the bank or post office. Safe deposit boxes are typically in a vault that is fire resistant and also made to withstand fire, flood, heat and even explosions. Should something unexpected happen to your home, or neighborhood, you can rest assured that you will have access to your cherished belongings and important documents.

There are also risk factors associated with safe deposit boxes. While they are resistant to disasters and accidents, they are not 100 percent guaranteed. If there is a city-wide flood, for instance, it may be some time before a safe deposit box owner can access the box. And there is always a chance that moisture can damage the items inside. It is recommended that items be put in airtight containers before being placed in the box and that photographs and copies be made to help you prove ownership if necessary. While safe deposit box theft is rare, should it happen, you may not be able to recoup your costs unless your bank was negligent.

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One size of safe deposit box does not fit all. You can choose different boxes depending on your need and what the institution has available. Prices usually range from about $22 for a 3-inch by 5-inch box for one year to $150 for a 10-inch by 15-inch box. The standard size of safe deposit boxes are 3 inches by 5 inches, 5 inches by 5 inches, 3 inches by 10 inches, 5 inches by 10 inches, 7inches by 10 inches, 10 inches by 10 inches, and 15 inches by 15 inches.

To determine which items you should put in a safe deposit box, ask yourself how much trouble it would be if you lost those items. If the answer is a ton of trouble, then you should use a safe deposit box and not your bottom dresser drawer. Items to keep in your safe deposit box include jewelry, financial documents, rare items and a copy of your will.

There are also things you should not put in a safety deposit box if you need to access them in a hurry such as passports, a power of attorney document and a living will. Your safe deposit box may not be accessible on evenings and weekends or during an emergency as the bank that holds the safe deposit box may be closed.