What do you know about your safe deposit box?


Back in the day, customers would have to wait months and even years to get their little share of their bank’s storage space.

For an arguably low annual fee, depending on the bank and the size of the cherished box, customers felt like high rollers, as there was and perhaps still is a mysterious allure to having a bank safe deposit box. More on this in a moment, but first for the benefit of the younger generation, an explanation of what a safe deposit box is might be necessary. It is a metal box inside a bank vault that can measure as little as two inches by five inches or as large as 10 inches by 10 inches. This relatively small space holds one’s prized possessions, such as essential documents, jewelry or even a treasured baseball card collection.

Once a staple of any bank branch, safe deposit boxes, in my opinion, have driven well past the last exit to relevance. Stated more simply, they are circling the drain, as the digital, post-internet, cloud-based world has changed how many folks store their relevant documents. In our fast-paced society, most people find it a hassle to retrieve items from their safe deposit box, especially when there are more convenient and possibly less costly alternatives. For example, according to Boston Lock & Safe Company Owner David Stoia, “Two or three customers come in every week who want to ditch their safe deposit box for a home safe.”

Although a safe deposit box lives within the chambers of a federally insured bank or credit union, The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC) does not protect its contents. Sadly, according to the Wall Street Journal, an estimated 1,300 safe deposit boxes were destroyed after the World Trade Center attack and Hurricane Katrina wiped out about 250 vaults, said Margot Mohsberg, spokesperson for the American Bankers Association. For this reason, it is probably a good idea to insure your safe deposit box contents with your homeowner's insurance.

In addition, make sure someone that you trust knows that you have a safe deposit box. Otherwise, when you die, the contents could revert to the state if nobody claims rights to the safe deposit box. Finally, the best advice that I can provide you regarding this subject is to read and understand your bank’s safe deposit lease agreement. If you are unclear about anything that you read, get on the phone with your bank’s branch manager and ask him or her questions until you get the answers you need.

Harry Pappas Jr., CFP®

Managing Director-Investments

Master Of Science Degree Personal Financial Planning

Certified Estate and Trust Specialist™

Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™Pappas Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors

818 A1A N, Ste. 200

Ponte Vedra, Florida 32082



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