Saturday, December 30, 2006

The value of a safe or safe deposit box

This is another post that I hope to make relevant to personal finance and comes directly from my own families recent experience where my wife passed away. (I hope this doesn't offend anyone....I think there have been some good lessons that I would like to pass along)

Today I was thinking about the value of our safe deposit box, and how it not only protects our vital documents from fire, theft and natural disaster, but it also serves as a central point where family members can go to find these and other valuable documents.

My wife and I keep a copy of our Will in there, along with a raft of other documents that are quite important.

These include:
  • Car titles
  • Insurance Policies (auto, home, life, etc...)
  • Investment documents and papers like savings bonds, a few corporate bonds, and home mortgage paperwork. (and eventually the deed)
  • Any valuable coins or papers

One other thing I intend to keep there is a list of all my online accounts and passwords as well as any debut or credit card pin numbers. This is something my wife and I did NOT keep in any one place, and I certainly do not feel comfortable keeping them in a file on the computer nor on a piece of paper in the desk drawer!

Now that my wife has passed, I added both my daughters as owners of the safe deposit box as well. I did this because if I don't, the box is sealed upon my death and no one can get to it except for my estate. Yes, it is true that they will be controlling the estate at that point, but it would probably still take months for them to gain control of the estate in order to even get in the box.

I will probably also try to keep a copy of that paperwork that I described in my last post. The four or five simple one page documents that describe how my income comes on, and what my bills are. (along with all the names and account numbers for all my accounts with phone numbers and the name of contact people)

The idea is to not only keep things safe in times of disaster, but to also keep things in one place, for easy access. (Yes, since it would be only down the street about 7 miles, it would not escape a nuclear blast over my house....but at that point I don't think anyone would really care about my ashes)

Tomorrow....maybe a couple of words about having a Will.

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