Your personal records and valuables may include letters, photographs and mementos, newspaper clippings, report cards, etc.  Or birth certificates, passports, insurance policies, etc.  You want to protect them all from harm. You can keep a safety deposit box in your home for many of your valuables, or you may choose to keep a safety deposit box at your local bank. Many of us have both.

Keep originals of wills, powers of attorneys, living wills, life insurance policies in your bank safety deposit box.  Many times upon death the safety deposit box is locked by the bank.  Therefore, it is wise to keep a copy of all your important documents that may pertain to your death together; then give a copy of all this important information to your beneficiaries and the executor of your will. Here is a list of what you should have with your will or trust:


  • lists of close family members
  • the names, addresses and birthdates of you and your immediate family
  • your social security card
  • copy of your birth certificate, military paper, marriage license and any prenup
  • if married before, copies of divorce papers or death certificate and ex-spouse’s information
  • location of original will or trust
  • location of original insurance policies
  • names and addresses of executors, trustees and beneficiaries of your will
  • names and addresses of doctors, attorneys, accountants and stockbrokers
  • the location of your bank safety deposit box and key
  • funeral arrangements

In your bank safety deposit box keep originals of all birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates and divorce papers–keep a copy at home. If you don’t have copies of these important records check with the Vital Statistics or your city county for copies. Don’t wait until you need one, get copies now.

Here are a few other important documents and items to add to your bank safety deposit box, remembering to keep a copy at home:

  • original deed to your home along with your mortgage agreement and any papers relating to surveys
  • all medical and immunization records
  • passports
  • social security numbers
  • valuable jewelry
  • small collectibles (stamps, coins)

Don’t take the safety of your social security number for granted.  Keep a copy of your social security card both at home and in the bank safety deposit box.  Make sure that all your information linked with your social security number is correct. Every so often check to make sure your earnings are being correctly reported.  Keep a file on your social security statements you receive during the years.

Credit cards can be easily lost, misplaced or stolen. Make 2 copies of all your credit cards, front and back. Carry one with you when you travel or leave home and keep the other copy at home.  When you see that one is missing, call immediately, you will have the account numbers and phone numbers at your fingertips. With the rise in identity theft, we cannot be too careful!

Maintain a permanent file with invoices of all major improvements and additions to your home.  When you sell your home these records could potentially help you reduce your taxes. Keep a permanent file for your children’s report cards and college records. Keep a file folder for warranties, owner manuals and receipts (important for returns and warranties).

You may feel that you don’t need a bank safety deposit box; instead you may feel that all you need is a fireproof safety box for your home.  There are many types and sizes to choose from to fit your needs.  A few years ago I purchased a system from Suze Orman called her Ultimate Protection Portfolio.  It includes instructions to create your own wills and legal documents.  It also organizes all your valuable information and documents in one place, so that in the case of an emergency, you just grab it and go!  Visit her website for more information.