Our clients often ask us where to keep their important documents, such as estate planning documents (wills, trusts, and powers of appointment), insurance policies, contracts, and other important financial documents.  The answer to this question often depends on how quickly you need to gain access to such documents.  For instance, without the requisite power of attorney or an authorization, you may need a court’s order to gain access to your safe deposit, which may take weeks of not months.  So, below is a guide to help you to decide where to keep your important documents:

Safe Deposit Box

Home Safe

Non-Emergency financial and personal documents, such as birth certificates, divorce papers, a summary of financial accounts.Emergency funds (cash).
Copies of emergency documents, such as trusts, wills, powers of attorney.Wills, trusts, powers of attorney, medical directives, and guardianship information.
Financial documents and investment records, such as stock certificates, bonds, real estate deeds, mortgages, contracts, business agreements, and records.Health care proxies, and list of health care providers and emergency contact information.
Copy or a list of credit cards, online passwords, social media accounts, and log-in information.Passports and copies of social security cards.
Inventory of household items (a written list of a video)Insurance policies and contact information.
Rare and antique items, such as jewelry, rare coins, stamps, cards, and pins.
Backup files of your electronic files.
Family photos and videos files (or tapes)
Appraisals and similar documents.

Costs

Typically, from $25 (for small 3”x5” box) to $150 per year (for large 10”x10” box).  Some banks provide free small safe deposit boxes if you maintain a certain level of assets or open certain types of accounts.  Safe deposit boxes are typically insured but prohibit storage of cash.Typically, form $150 (for small safe) to $1,000 (for large ones); often very heavy and require professional installation; difficult to relocate. Should look for water and fire resistant safes.