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What to Keep in a Safe-Deposit Box

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Your most valuable documents don't belong stashed haphazardly in a messy desk drawer. A safe-deposit box is a secure place to store items that would cause panic if lost.

Many banks and credit unions rent safe-deposit boxes. The annual cost can range from less than $50 to more than $400, depending on where you live and what size box you need. In addition to the important documents listed below, consider using a safe-deposit box to store personal items that have great sentimental value or would be difficult and costly to replace.

What to Keep in a Safe-Deposit Box
  • Insurance policies
  • Birth, marriage and death certificates
  • Adoption papers and divorce decrees
  • Deeds, titles, mortgage papers and lease contracts
  • Military records and citizenship papers
  • Stock and bond certificates
  • A videotape or DVD inventory of your home and all its contents

What NOT to Keep in a Safe-Deposit Box
  • Originals of wills, trusts and power of attorney documents
  • Medical care directives
  • Funeral or burial instructions
Missing some of the important documents listed above? Download our free guide on beginning your estate planning.

So what should you do with important items that shouldn't be kept in a safe-deposit box? Store them in a safe place at home, such as a fireproof/waterproof safe, where they are more easily accessible in a hurry. You might want to consider giving the originals of these documents to your estate planning attorney and making a copy to keep at home or to give to a close relative or friend. Even more important, make certain the person you've appointed in your power of attorney and medical care directives has an original copy of these documents.

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As a precautionary measure, keep a separate list of the items in your safe-deposit box and make a habit of checking the box at least once a year—if only to keep from forgetting where you hid the key.

Once your records are safe, be sure you keep them up to date. If you'd like to include Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Foundation, Inc. in your will or other long-term plans, please contact Paula S. Fortunas at 850-431-5752 or

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The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For legal or tax advice, please consult an attorney. Figures cited in examples are for hypothetical purposes only and are subject to change. References to estate and income taxes apply to federal taxes only. State income/estate taxes or state law may impact your results.