What Should Go in Your Home Safe?
Securing Your Important Documents and Treasures
Fall is about to arrive, so it is time for a little fall cleaning. While your cleaning out the closets and organizing the junk drawer, don't forget to revisit the important documents and other items you have in your home safe and/or safe-deposit box at the bank.
What documents do you need to keep? What can your shred? Are your valuable items properly secured?
Wait, what’s that? You don’t have a home safe? Or a safe-deposit box? Well, let’s look at why you may want to get one – or both – and what to keep inside.
Oftentimes these are well suited for safeguarding important documents and valuable things you access somewhat regularly, such as jewelry or watches. Keep in mind that while residential safes help protect against fire and theft, they often aren’t as robust as commercial models. For the best protection in a home safe, select a model that is heavy enough that a burglar couldn’t make off with it, and consider bolting it to the floor. Here are some of the things you may want to keep inside:
- Insurance policies and your agent’s contact information.
- Passports, original birth certificates and Social Security cards.
- Photocopies of passports, credit cards and driver’s licenses, in case they are ever lost or stolen from your purse or wallet.
- Tax documents and tax returns, from the past six to seven years.
- A list of your family’s medical information and contacts, including doctors, pharmacies and medications.
- Investment and banking documents, including billing contact information, as well as emergency cash.
- Heirloom and other valuable jewelry and watches.
- Wills and other important legal documents, including wills that list you as the executor.
- Computer backup disks or drives, or other small electronics you don’t use regularly.
- Safe-deposit box keys.
Speaking of safe-deposit boxes, are they an old-fashioned notion or something that’s worth your while? To answer that question, U.S. News & World Report recommends gathering everything you might want to store in a safe-deposit box and then determining whether you feel secure enough storing it all at home.
If not, a safe-deposit box may be a better, more secure option. A bank is more heavily guarded than your home, after all – against theft, fire and other disasters.
If you do decide on a safe-deposit box, here’s what you might want to keep in it:
- Originals of key documents, such as property deeds, car titles, etc.
- Valuable collections or family keepsakes that you don’t access very often.
- Pictures or videos from your home inventory to use for insurance purposes.
If not, store these items in your home safe. And, here’s what NOT to put in a safe-deposit box:
- Anything you may need to access quickly, such as passports, powers of attorney documents, etc.
- Cash. Not only will your money not earn interest in a safe-deposit box, it won’t be protected by FDIC insurance, either.
Remember, putting something in your home safe or a safe-deposit box is more secure than stashing it in your sock drawer, but it doesn’t guarantee anything, either. So, think about having document backups, as well as insurance for your valuable items.
After all, if something is valuable enough to lock up, isn’t it valuable enough to insure, too? Talk to your independent agent about your personal property coverage and about scheduling any high-value items, especially expensive jewelry and collectibles, separately.