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How to Protect Yourself With a Safe Deposit Box

By: Jason Markum

Everyone should have a safe deposit box these days. People often aren’t sure exactly what to keep in the safe deposit box. In this article I’m going to discuss all the basic things you should keep and give you some pointers and tips that you need to know.

Why keep a safe deposit box? Many reasons! There could be a fire at your house, or you might get robbed. Identity theft is a growth industry and keeping all of your important documents in a safe deposit box can considerably cut down your chances of con artists stealing your important information.

And that’s not to mention valuable physical items as well such as jewelry and coins and things of this nature that you may not want to keep laying around in your house.

Most people don’t realize that safe deposit boxes are so incredibly cheap. Many times that fee can be charged directly to your checking or savings account which makes paying the fee very simple and hassle free.

So what exactly should you keep in your safety deposit box?

First lets talk about important documents… you should always keep stock certificates, mortgage papers, and title papers to real estate and automobiles and boats and campers and things like this in your safety deposit box. You also want keep copies of any contracts or legal agreements that you have signed over the years. Divorce papers or separation agreements and military discharge papers are also good documents to keep in your safe deposit box.

Also I suggest you keep basic documents on members of your family; including birth certificates for yourself and all your children and your spouse, marriage certificates especially if you’ve been in several marriages, and heaven forbid – death certificates should be placed in your safe deposit box as well.

Those are the basic documents you should keep… a lot of people also keep copies of credit cards (both front and back photocopied) and passport photocopies for yourself and all your family members. Another good idea is to keep pictures of all the major asset you own, including your house and your boats and RVs, and things of this nature. Keeping pictures of these things is important if you ever need to make an insurance claim of any kind.

Some people keep copies of tax returns for the prior 3 to 5 years in their boxes as well though I’m not so sure how important this is since your accountant will have copies as well.

Keep a copy of your will and any trust agreements in your safe deposit box but not the originals. These should be on file at your attorney’s office because if you die your attorney will need your will. Safe deposit boxes are often sealed upon death until the IRS can get in there and see what’s what. So if your will is in there it may complicate things considerably since you may not be able to get it out till the IRS gets done (and who knows how long that will take!).

Whatever you end up putting into your safe deposit box, just to make sure that you *have* one. It’s one of the most important things you may ever do.

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