By Robyn A. Friedman
City & Shore Magazine
A safe-deposit box is a convenient, safe and affordable way to store valuables such as jewelry, collectibles, stocks and bonds. But it’s not the correct choice for every situation.
“The biggest benefit to having a safe-deposit box is peace of mind,” says Matt Lookretis, a vice president and district manager for Florida Community Bank. “It’s a centralized location for important papers, family heirlooms, even digital photographs. It ensures the items won’t be lost or misplaced.”
Lookretis says that food — yes, people have done that — and cash should not be stored in a safe-deposit box. “For some reason, people are drawn to storing cash in safe-deposit boxes,” he says. “But that’s not a good idea because it’s not easily accessible, and your money is getting devalued because you’re not earning interest on it.”
While many people store important documents in their safe-deposit boxes, that’s not always a good idea. Remember that banks have limited hours of operation, so documents you may need quickly — such as a passport or insurance policy, for example — should not be stored there.
Wills are another big issue, Lookretis says. “It’s not a terrible idea to store a copy of your will, but not the original document,” he says. “I’ve seen what happens when loved ones can’t locate important documents when they’re needed most.”
A safe-deposit box can serve as a centralized location to store important documents, but upon the death of the holder, the bank will seal the box until the will is probated, Lookretis says. It’s a good idea to have a joint owner of the box, he says. That way, family members will still have access to the contents as long as the joint owner is alive.
One other important tip: Boxes always come with two keys. Don’t keep the extra key in the box (people do).
At Florida Community Bank, safe deposit boxes cost between $30 and $90 per year for boxes ranging from 2” x 5” to 10” x 10”. Certain banking products include complimentary safe-deposit boxes.
Many homeowners opt to have safes installed in their home to store valuables, and those are certainly more accessible, but Lookretis warns that a safe-deposit box in a bank is more resistant to fires and hurricanes. “Both options — a home safe and a safe-deposit box — are important,” he says.
For larger valuables, such as exotic cars, art or wine collections, consider a secure self-storage facility. For example, RoboVault is a state-of-the-art storage facility in Fort Lauderdale that features an automated retrieval system, biometric security, air conditioning and climate control. It was built to withstand a category 5 hurricane.
Shari Gherman, president of the American Fine Wine Competition, has been storing the competition’s wines at RoboVault for about five years — close to 3,000 bottles, worth $150,000, at any given time.
“It’s incredible security — you can’t get in there,” she says. “It’s climate-controlled at 55 degrees, which is what wine likes best. And the price is right.”