Mar 05

Tip on What Not To Store in a Safe Deposit Box

A long time ago, we told you what to store in a safe deposit box. Now, in case that wasn't clear enough, we have advice on what not to put in that same box, courtesy of Michael Hymes, CPA.

Don't put originals wills, trust instruments, or powers of attorney in a safe deposit box. Instead, keep these in a fireproof safe at home or at your attorney’s office.

Why? When someone dies, a safe deposit box may be sealed for weeks, which could result in result in delays. You might even have to spend money securing a court order to open the box. Further, and here's the Catch-22: the will's executor will not be able to get to the box without the will that shows that he is indeed, the executor, resulting in headaches and delays.

So, just to be clear: Don't put original copies of legal documents in a safe deposit box if they will be needed by anyone who cannot gain access to them. As we said before, feel free to put copies of legal documents in the safe deposit box.

But how safe are safe deposit boxes from damage or theft? This checklist on safe deposit box use suggests sealing documents and other items in airtight plastic bags or containers to prevent water damage, and even keep a list of the items in the box. Remember, there is no FDIC insurance coverage on items in a safe deposit box.


  • well all i want to say is i had a deposit box for 7 years and i had many valuable things in it including a £100,000 necklace i opened my box to get the necklace and i found the necklace looked a little different i found out it had been replaced with an exact replica even forged hallmarks were found on the clasp. after huge arguments with the bank which i cant name i was given £105,000 to shut me up. please be aware thats all im saying.

    Mar 29
  • Noise noise noise.

    Mar 06
  • Are you peolpe idiots? Having worked in a bank for over a decade, I can tell you -- forgetting where you put something is no excuse to blame the bank. The lock on safe deposit boxes needs the BANK *AND* CUSTOMER KEY. The BANK side can NOT be locked UNTILL the customer side is, so this whole "slight of hand" theory is all BS. You people need to start thinking more about where you put your belongings and less about your conspiracy theories of the bank employees somehow having time to drill your box without being noticed.

    Mar 02
  • ABC News video documents numerous cases where banks and the state simply take and claim your safety deposit items and it's up to you to figure out what happened and how to get your stuff back.


    Jan 26
  • Terry Green, you are the idiot!!!

    Jan 04
  • Gold was confiscated by an executive order by Roosevelt in '33 and was illegal for Americans to possess until Ford changed the law in '74. Don't know if it would ever happen again but it did happen. Google it to see for yourself.

    Snopes does sometimes make mistakes by the way.

    Nov 29
  • I just think it is dumb that people say the gov is confiscating gold and silver when no one sees what you put in your box or what you take out of it and its safe to say burying your shit isn't the best idea but I guess it could work don't forget to add your treasure map to your will incase something happens to you.

    Oct 08
  • To anyone who reads this forum and then pretends that anything is a Safe Deposit Box is safe; well you are an idiot. If you don't want your crap stolen you simply bury it and make damn sure you are the only one who knows. Other than that, everything can be stolen. Hell, look at the U.S., these morons in this forum who claim that shit can't be stolen from a bank would never believe that the U.S. is being stolen by illegal aliens but just take a look around you idiots.

    Terry Green

    Oct 01
  • wow. this thread is full of misinformation!

    Sep 29
  • I just realized last week that a very valuable gold pocket watch chain has been stolen from my safe deposit box. It is irreplaceable as it belonged to my (long deceased) dad. I am sick over this. I wrongly assumed that because these boxes are in a bank's vault, they are safe. Not!
    What I find interesting about this is that the thief switched the chain and attached an inexpensive one on my dad's pocket watch. I spoke to security personnel from the bank. He claims there is nothing they can do as they do not know what I had in the box to begin with. My advice: do not use a box unless it is absolutely necessary--and if you have your valuables in one--check and make sure that your items are of the same value now as when you put them in. Also, insure and take photos of all items.

    Sep 07
  • "All safe deposit boxes in banks or financial institutions have been
    sealed... and may only be opened in the presence of an agent of the
    I.R.S." - President F.D. Roosevelt, 1933

    Sep 03
  • As for all of the baloney about HMS and safety deposit is the scoop.

    Jul 28

    Jul 18
  • I know someone who just discovered that items were stolen from a Wells Fargo safety deposit box in the Santa Clarita area of Los Angeles and is reporting it to the police as I write. To the two parties that have also had items stolen from Wells Fargo, please contact me at

    Jul 18
  • As for homeland security taking gold and other valuables out of safe deposit boxes:

    Banks do not keep records on what is in safe deposit boxes. It can take up to 10 minutes to 2 hours to drill a box depending on age of the box and the person doing it, it is not like the movies folks. The cost and time to drill the boxes would probably not be worth what they would find. Also, how fast do you think people would empty their boxes once word got out. It is one of the silliest thing I have ever heard of.

    May 23
  • A) You should always ask the rules regarding a safe deposit box BEFORE you open the box. Almost all banks have regulations against putting cash in the box will often report you if they find out you are. IRS knows this is an area to hide money.
    B) When getting your box, be a pain, insist on keeping your box always in view, both when getting the box and returning it to the vault. Do not simply hand it off to the bank employee to put away, that is how problems start.
    C) VERY good idea to not keep originals of trusts or wills in safe deposit. I would even go one step further. If you trust someone in your life, put them on your box so they have easy access if something were to happen to you.

    May 23
  • I also have great pics of the rest of the boxes one opened showing a large box of cash(millions in cash)mind boggling i tell you all the wells fargo lettering clearly shown,these boxes are still in their hiding place as can be seen by the background

    May 09
  • how can i redeem a gold and silver deposit certificate from a wells fargo box some of the large quantity of cash has aready been spent

    May 09
  • About the Department of Homeland Security confiscating gold and silver, that's not an outlandish scenario, at all. It's happened before. FDR confiscated all gold during the Great Depression.

    May 05
  • ...that simple slight of hand leaves your box hers or his for the taking. She can then have a friend come in pretend to sign in and pretend to hand her a key and then empty out your SD box. Then the teller can claim the person showed ID and had the key so how was she to know it was not the right person.

    Mar 09
  • When you go to get in your saftey depos. box the teller asks for your key then she puts in both keys, turns both keys and pulls out your box. Upon returnig and locking your box all she has to do is position her body between you and the box insert both keys and only turn her key. She then hands your key back and you leave. She can now go in at any time and open your box because your key was never turned to lock the second lock. My friend understood this and said to the lady I am keeping my key I will insert and turn it to be sure my (the second) lock is locked.

    Mar 09
  • Just to mention... Saftey Deposit Box vaults have cameras...

    Feb 28
  • The keys may look simple, but they are not. If they are cut even a fraction of a cenimeter off, they will not turn in the safe box lock.

    Feb 27
  • Keeping valuables at home seems risky also. Any ideas on how to keep valuables safe, either at the bank or elsewhere ?

    Feb 13
  • Have you seen how simple those safe deposit keys are? If a bank employee had the bank's key and he was a good lock picker, he could pick the customer's lock.

    Dec 28
  • Safe deposit boxes require two keys to open. One key is the bank's and the other is held by the renter. The bank CAN NOT open a box without drilling the renter's lock open.

    Dec 12
  • I am surprised why some body will put cash in safe deposit. was it a black money? If not, deposit in online saving accounts like HSBC direct online saving account and u earn 5-6% apr

    Nov 04
  • To the person whos brother had cash stolen from a wells fargo bank saftey deposit box , - I too had a large amount of cash stolen from a marina del rey branch that I discovered this May , I have reported it to police and heard nothing I am at a loss as to how to procede is there a way of contacting yo directly I wold like to discuss this matter

    Oct 10
  • and this documentary tells more serets that you never knew

    Sep 09
  • Don't trust any safe deposit box. My brother had one at Wells Fargo in Los Angeles. To make a long story short employee (s) at the bank stole the cash from the box. In fact, the only way my brother was able to pursue the matter (to the extent he did) was because the a**h* at the bank didn't return the tin. When my brother went there on a Saturday the tin was GONE!..The bank manager magically found it in another slot (unlocked ) a couple of days later. Couldn't find a lawyer that would take the case, saying you can't prove what was in the box. The LAPD and FBI said they couldn't help because it was a bank matter, safe deposit boxes are not federally insured. They didn't deny that the tin was missing, but the bank regional manager said most likely my brother placed the tin in the wrong slot. None of the bank employees subpeonaed showed up. Anyway, my brother settled "out of" small claims court for the max $7500 with the Banks legal rep saying she would make no arguement. The judge never got to hear the case. The $7500 wasn't the total value of the cash my deceased father had saved in old hundred dollar bills that survived Hurricane Katrina. My brother put it in Wells Fargo for safe keeping. What a joke!! Be aware, Wells Fargo can not be trusted and the theives are still there. I'm sure we are not the first victims and I'm certain we will not be the last.

    Sep 06
  • Also, don't put the key to the saftey deposit box in the box.

    Mar 14
  • I think it means you should get over your ex.

    Mar 09
  • I have my passport and some jewelry from my ex in my safe deposit box. Soes this mean I should move the jewelry?

    Mar 07
  • I am sorry, but as I said - check with your bank... I did you see... Wells Fargo... they did not admit to it lightly but I threatened to move my accounts somewhere else and they did.

    Mar 07
  • Another thing no one realizes and is very important. When a person dies and the safe deposit needs opening, local law enforcement and the IRS must be there to view contents. Why would anyone want a deposit box? Banks are too self-centered to be "friendly" customer oriented. BofA is giving out checking accounts and credit cards to illegals, all just for making more money and let the rest of us pay for the deliquent accounts that are caused.

    Mar 06
  • I had the same problem with a will stored in a safe deposit box at BofA in Florida. Florida law requires banks to open safe deposit boxes to third parties in limited circumstances. When a lessee of a safe deposit box dies, a person named as a personal representative or executor in the decedent's will is entitled to inspect the box to see if it contains a later will or a burial plot certificate. This is required by statute. I and other attorneys in the Tampa Bay area have had real problems with BofA on this. BofA'a attitude is that they don't care about the law, all that matters is their operations manual. I and another attorney have had this problem with the same BofA branch in Clearwater, FL. Each time we had to contact the BofA General Counsel' office in Charlotte, NC, to have them tell the branch of what Florida law requires. And yet the next time the branch pulls the same stunt! I can't believe this problem is limited to BofA. So my advice parallels that of this article: Do NOT put anything in a safe deposit box that you might need should your client pass away. Especially with BofA!

    Mar 06
  • Nope.

    More Gold bug, Anti-government, Right wing kookiness

    Mar 05
  • How about:

    Do NOT put any sort of gold or silver items into the safe deposit box because the bank is under the orders from Dept of Homeland Security to not release those in case of economic meltdown?

    If you do not beleive me - check with your bank branch manager...

    Mar 05