Things You Should (and Shouldn't) Store in a Safety Deposit Box

March 27, 2018
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Joe TwidwellBy Joe Twidwell
Senior Vice President & Trust Officer 

Almost everyone has valuable items they want to protect from theft or destruction. For securing smaller objects and documents, a safe deposit box is often the safest and most economical answer. When deciding whether or not to store something inside a safe deposit box, here are a few factors to consider about your item:

  1. How secure do you want it to be?
  2. Is cost an issue?
  3. Is 24/7 access important?

How Secure is a Safe Deposit Box?

A safe deposit box offers the highest degree of protection because the box is usually stored inside a large permanent vault in a bank. The law requires the safe deposit box vaults to be a permanent structure constructed of materials and monitored with alarms to make unauthorized entry almost impossible. Safe deposit box vaults are also required to have a fireproof rating. 

Furthermore, safe deposit boxes are secured by double locks — one for the customer, and one for the financial institution staff. There are no other copies of the customer’s key, since the law prohibits the bank from keeping a key for both locks. If the renter’s keys are lost, the only recourse for entry is to have a locksmith drill out the renter’s locks at the renter’s expense. Access is also limited to only those names on the signature authorization card, or those legally authorized to enter by court order.

Safe Deposit Box vs. Personal Safe

A personal safe, on the other hand, is normally a smaller object located in the home or office of the owner (the larger the box, the more it costs). If not permanently mounted to a solid concrete floor, the safe is subject to being removed from the property with its contents. To protect against removal, the owner would need to have a monitored security system that would detect someone attempting to remove or open the safe (another monthly expense).

How Much Does a Safe Deposit Box Cost?

The price of a safe deposit box varies by size and dimension. For a small box at Security National Bank, the annual cost amounts to less than $3 per month.* Other fees may also apply (including drilling, lost key, expedited re-key and late fees). Discounts are also available, if you automatically withdraw the fees from an SNB checking account. For more details, contact us today.

It’s also important to note that deposit boxes are NOT federally insured, and are not insured by your financial institution. We recommend you speak with your insurance agent to see if you can add a special “personal item floater” to your homeowners insurance, to cover any valuable items you keep in a safe deposit box. There are also companies that specialize in insuring safe deposit boxes.

Is 24/7 Access Important To You?

It’s a general rule of thumb to not store anything in a safe deposit box that you will need on a daily basis or in an emergency – because you’ll only have access to your valuables when the bank is open (see SNB hours and locations). With that in mind, here’s a basic breakdown of what to keep (and not to keep) in a safe deposit box:

What Should Go in a Safe Deposit Box:

  1. An original certified copy of your birth certificate and marriage certificate. The issuing authorities charge for replacements of these documents and the process sometimes moves slowly — so having certified copies stored away can be a time and money saver in the long run.

  2. Copies of your passport, social security card, military discharge papers or baptismal certificate. These are important documents that are often used for verification or identification purposes. Veterans, for example, are entitled to a burial gratuity — but you'll need a copy of your DD-214 to get it. Having extra copies of these documents can save time and anxiety for you and your family.

  3. Savings bonds or original stock certificates.

  4. Car titles.

  5. Deeds and easements to property you own.

  6. Valuable collectibles (coins, stamps or sports cards you rarely look at).

  7. Jewelry or family heirlooms you rarely wear.

  8. An inventory of your household and its possessions, together with a video recording of the contents. Many people have replacement value homeowners insurance. If your home was destroyed, do you know what you have in your closest, storage room or garage? How would you prove what the items were, their condition and who made them? An inventory of your home together with dated pictures showing closets and open drawers as well as furniture can help you establish your rightful claim.

What Should Not Go in a Safe Deposit Box:

  1. Wills, power of attorney documents or health care directives. Only someone listed on your signature authorization card can access your safe deposit box. If you are the sole authorized owner of your box and you become disabled or die, your attorney would need to obtain a court order for your family to authorize entry — which is a difficult and time-consuming process. Therefore, keep these documents outside your safe deposit box and in a place where a trusted person can access them. (By the way, don’t forget to tell that person where they are hidden…)

  2. Cash. Money does not appreciate or earn any interest in a safe deposit box. Emergency cash for a disaster should be in a secure place in your home. If there is a serious disaster, the bank may not be open or may have been affected by the same disaster and may not be accessible.

  3. Original passports. One of the most common problems for travelers is forgetting their passports in their safe deposit box. And if your plane is leaving on an evening or weekend when the bank is not open — your out of luck. With that in mind, secure these documents in a regularly used place.

  4. Insurance policies & agent informationIf an emergency happens, you’ll need this information right away.

  5. Small live animals, reptiles or insects. Just kidding — hopefully, this goes without saying!

How Can You Get a Safe Deposit Box?

Contact us if you’re interested in setting up a safe deposit box at any SNB location. Or, schedule an appointment for a day and time that work best for you. We're here to help!


*NOTICE: The fees may be changed by the Bank at any time after giving you written notice of not less than 30 days. For more information, visit your local branch, or contact us at (712) 277-6500.