Anyone who has valuable personal property or important documents, such as estate planning documents, passports, or deeds, can benefit by leasing a safety deposit box from a bank or credit union. While safety deposit boxes, also known as safe deposit boxes, are easy to use and provide a significant level of security, you will need to make specific arrangements for the contents of the box in your estate plan. Here’s what you need to know.
Keeping a safe deposit box is a great idea, but if no one else knows about it it could cause a significant problem when it comes time to probate your estate. If you use the box to hold valuable property or important documents and no one knows they are there, this can cost your estate a lot of time and money, especially if those items are never found.
While you can use safe deposit box to protect your assets, you cannot use it to shield those assets from the requirements of passing through probate. If, for example, you own real estate and have the deed to the property, you cannot simply avoid probate by placing the deed in the safe deposit box. The laws of your state will determine if that property must pass through probate.
Informing your family and estate administrator about the existence of the box may not be enough to ensure they have access to it after you die. You will need to speak to your estate planning attorney on how you can ensure the bank will allow someone else access to your safety deposit box.