Why treasures in safe deposit boxes get ‘lost’

By | September 14, 2009

Why treasures in safe deposit boxes get lostI found out today that my “$100,000” renter’s insurance policy from Farmers Insurance, covers only $100 and the max they will ever cover is $500. Not impressive. Not even very useful if you want to keep your vast coin collection gathered from the maze in the Great Underground Empire in your apartment.

So, now I have my coins safely in a rich friend’s white house in the forest, in a hidden safe … for now, but I’d like to not impose for too long. I was thinking my own safe at home would be fine … with appropriate insurance, but no it seems that money of any kind is hard to insure.

That is why I’m thinking about getting a safe deposit box. Then I read this story by Liz Pulliam:

Are the contents of your safe deposit box safe?

Are you sure?

Every year, untold numbers of safe deposit boxes are declared “abandoned,” drilled open and their contents turned over to state unclaimed-property offices. Whatever’s inside that can be auctioned — jewelry, stamp collections, coins, watches — eventually is sold to the highest bidder. …

Kristof’s subsequent investigation found an estimated 700,000 Californians may have permanently lost possessions or savings because of poor record-keeping by banks or the state. …

Bank mergers and changing policies on fees help contribute to the confusion. Records may be lost when banks change computer systems, often in the wake of a merger. Meanwhile, services the original bank offered for free may incur charges under the new regime. If the safe deposit box owners don’t know about the fee or ignore the bills, the bank can drill the box after a period of time — typically two or three years, depending on state law. …

Items that can’t be sold, like birth or marriage certificates, may be shredded….

3 ways to protect yourself
So how can you protect yourself and your possessions if you have a safe deposit box? Consider the following steps:

  • Call your bank. If you don’t remember paying a safe deposit fee recently, ask your bank if your box is free. If not, stop by the branch, make sure your box is still there and pay the bill. If possible, set up an automatic payment so the fee is deducted each year from your checking account.
  • Visit your box. At least once a year, open the box and inspect its contents. Then make sure the bank has the correct address on file for you.
  • Tell your heirs. Ideally, you’ll mention the box in your will (which you won’t, by the way, store in the box — safe deposit boxes may be sealed at death). At the very least, let a trusted friend or relative know about the box’s existence.

via Why treasures in safe deposit boxes get ‘lost’ – MSN Money.

Good to know. I’m going to shop around and see what kind of deal Gringotts Bank can give me on a box.

What belongs in your safe deposit box?

PERSONAL DOCUMENTATION: Marriage certificate, Birth certificate, Copy of passport, Copy of college degree, Copy of professional license, Copy of separation/divorce papers, Social Security Card, Copy of health information (vaccinations, hospitalizations), Military records

REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY: Deeds, titles, title insurance for home, any other property you own and for auto(s), Videotape/DVD inventory of house, Copy of receipts for big-ticket items like furnishings, Copy of homeowner’s/renter’s insurance, Copy of receipts for home improvements, Coins, jewelry, etc.

FINANCIAL/BUSINESS: Copy of employment contract, Original stock certificates (if not held in street name, which is the recommended form of ownership), Original prospectuses and sales materials for any limited partnerships, Bonds and Treasury securities (if not held in street name), U.S. savings bonds

PROOF OF ALIENS: Thumb drive with your highly encrypted documentation proving that aliens exist on earth.

Okay, I added that last item.  A thumb drive with an electronic copy of your encrypted tax records would be a good idea, however. Store part of the 30 character password in your will and part elsewhere… perhaps even break it up into several parts… but they must all be retrievable or your data is forever lost.

Tip from jnwcmr:

For both my fireproof safe, and Safety Deposit Box, I keep all contents in sealed freezer bags. They may be fire-proof, but I’ll bet not water proof. When the fire department comes, everything gets hosed. Literally!

A safety deposit box will be frozen upon your death, so you can’t keep your will there.

Where should you store your will? … Yeah, okay, I don’t even have one, but if I did… where would I store it?

A copy of a will is useless. The court needs the original in order to probate it. And there should be only ONE original (not two, three, etc.), as multiple originals confuse the courts! The best place to store the original will is with the lawyer who drafted it (if you have one). Otherwise, most states allow you to deposit the original with the Register of Deeds at your local courthouse.

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