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What is a Safe Deposit Box?

By Deborah Ng
Updated May 16, 2024
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Many people are afraid to keep their valuables at home. Although they would love to feel as if their family treasures and important documents are safe, the fact of the matter is that the unthinkable does happen. In addition to being the spoils of a robbery, valuables can become damaged due to fire, flooding or another act of nature. For this reason, a safe deposit box is a good idea.

A safe deposit box is a locked container kept inside of a bank vault. These boxes come in many different shapes and sizes and are made of a fireproof material. They're not free, however, and are rented much in the way one would rent a post office box. The amount of money a person pays depends on the size of the box desired.

Items that are good candidates for storage in a safe deposit box are important documents, such as the deed to a house or a last will and testament, and treasured family heirlooms such as jewelry. Anything a person would rather not see fall into the wrong hands should be kept their.

When someone rents a safe deposit box, he or she will most likely be presented with two keys. Only individuals authorized by the renter will be allowed to access the box. This means that an employee of the bank will request identification before allowing access to it. Anyone not on the list of approved persons will be denied access.

Should a person want to make a deposit into or withdrawal from a safe deposit box, the renter will be escorted to a private room along with his or her box. The person will be left alone to view the contents without worrying about who might be taking inventory.

People should keep in mind, however, that there's a downside to owning a safe deposit box. Since the valuables are held at a remote location, they're not available 24 hours a day. This means that a person who rents a box will not have convenient access to it during non-business hours. If someone decides to rent a safe deposit box, he or she should give careful consideration to those items stored in it.

In the long run, the benefits of renting a box often far outweigh the disadvantages. When it comes to important documents and family treasures, it's better to be safe than sorry.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Animandel — On Feb 12, 2014
When I was in college, I was bad about misplacing things--anything and everything. So when I was preparing to leave for my spring break trip out of the country, I realized I had no idea where my passport was. I looked and looked and looked with no luck.

Finally, I decided to call my mom. I know, it's sad when a 20 year-old has to call her mother because she has lost something. Anyway, I was about to ask Mom whether she had any idea where my passport might be, but I didn't get the chance. As soon as she answered the phone, she asked whether I would need her to get my passport from the safe deposit box.

It had been a couple years since I had been out of the country and I had forgotten it was in my parents' safe deposit box. So, it was safe all the time. I just didn't know where it was.

By Sporkasia — On Feb 12, 2014

Drentel - I have a safe deposit box and I find it very useful. For every one of those stories you have heard about people leaving items in safe deposit boxes and being unable to get the items when they needed them most, I bet there are a dozen instances when people have needed their valuable items and were able to retrieve them because they were safely tucked away in a bank vault.

By Drentel — On Feb 11, 2014

I have never had a safe deposit box. I don't want one. I have listened to story after story from people who left some important legal document or some valuable item in a safe deposit box. Then for one reason or another they suddenly needed the item or document and it was a weekend, or a holiday or after hours during the work week.

In other words, the people were out of luck. Their items were safe. The owners of the objects just couldn't get them when they needed them most.

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