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Avoiding Disaster

Avoiding Disaster

 

 Hurricanes, floods, fires, blizzards, ice storms. No matter the season, we are reminded on a daily basis just how fragile our homes are. With the gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley and Hurricane Florence fresh in our minds, this is a good time to consider the safety of your valuables and your important papers. We suggest that you consider a safe deposit box in addition to an in-home lock box or safe. 

First, let’s talk about the pros and cons of a safe deposit box. Renting a safe deposit box at your local bank provides strong security at a reasonable cost. Because the safe deposit box is within a vault, contents are well protected from the elements, though experts suggest placing items within plastic containers or Ziploc bags for a bit more protection against water damage. Additionally, banks have safety precautions in place to protect you from thieves. When a request is made to access the box, signatures and identities are verified. In other words, possession of the key to the box is not sufficient to gain access. Such security can also become a drawback to a safe deposit box since no one else can access the box. Therefore, we also recommend that you add a trusted family member or friend to your safe deposit box. Your bank can explain the options available to you. Adding someone also ensures that someone else knows about the safe deposit box if something happened to you. 

Since a safe deposit box provides secure storage of important items, you might wonder why we also recommend purchasing a lock box or safe for your home. The primary reason for an in-home solution is for situations when you need access to an important item outside of banking hours. While perhaps not likely, a trip could be scuttled if your passport is in the safe deposit box and the bank is closed. Original estate planning documents, such as a health care directive or power of attorney, are also of little value if locked up in the bank when needed. Additionally, standard homeowners insurance doesn’t necessarily cover valuables in a safe deposit box. Similarly, cash in a safe deposit box, though technically in a bank, is not protected by the FDIC like cash that has been deposited in a bank account. Therefore, we suggest an in-home safe or fireproof lock box in addition to a safe deposit box. 

So what should you keep in a safe deposit box versus an in-home solution? Here is a guide: Safe Deposit Box 

In-home Safe or Lock Box 

Copies of estate plan documents (will, power of attorney, health care directive) 

Original estate plan documents 

Videos or photos of belongings in your home for insurance purposes 

Valuables covered by homeowners insurance or a personal articles floater 

Marriage certificates 

Spare keys 

Birth & adoption certificates 

Cash 

Real estate deeds and vehicle titles 

Original passports 

Precious metals, jewelry and collectibles that cannot be insured 

Property insurance policies and agent contact information 

Photos and negatives 

Funeral or burial arrangements 

Copies of driver’s licenses and passports 

Safe deposit box keys 

Hard drives and flash drives with important data 

Diplomas and transcripts 

Military records 

 

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