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Visited your Safe Deposit Box Lately?
Old 05-06-2016, 07:28 PM   #1
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Visited your Safe Deposit Box Lately?

Triggered by a short article on unclaimed property in one of AARP's monthly publications, it got me checking on the Rules for Remitting Unclaimed Property.
Finally found this website Unclaimed Property Laws by State. Pick you State and you can review each state's seizure rules and definition for a variety of personal property.
Each class of property has its own timetable for when a business must turnover "abandoned" property with 3 years being fairly common.
In Arizona, your safe deposit can be presumed to be "abandoned" after ONE year; in Oregon 2years. The more aggressive a state is on tax collection, the shorter the time for forcing assets to be turned over. In Oregon, they also require Fiduciaries to remit assets "abandoned" in only 2 years!
These so-call "abandoned" assets are not uncommonly associated with seniors who have "lost track" of where stuff is. I found my assets from my deceased Mom resulting from a demutualization resulting in recovery of several thousand after multiple messages and certifications being mailed to AZ Unclaimed property division.
States are suppose to performed diligent task to find owners but there is really no oversight or enforcement of any standard of "diligence".

I visited our safe deposit box to get a car title last week and was amazed it had been 3 years since I last signed in. So time flys if you are not watching the calendar.
YMMV
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Old 05-06-2016, 08:09 PM   #2
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When I moved Pops from Detroit to CA I knew that he had a box in a bank and I knew where it was, but Pops didn't know where the key was.

I asked at the bank and found that there is no "master key" and that the only way to open a box w/o the key was to drill the lock, $250.

When I cleaned out the house I didn't find the key so I paid the bank $250 to drill the lock. Good thing too, inside was a Krugerrand, (2) 1800's USA $5 gold coins and a 100 oz silver medallion.

Moral of the story - Don't lose the key.
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Old 05-07-2016, 02:53 AM   #3
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I live in IL.

I don't think you need to physically visit the box, just paying the annual rental counts. I know because my Mom passed in 2004 and I don't think my Dad ever had occassion to go to the box and he passed on in 2013.
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Old 05-07-2016, 06:49 AM   #4
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It does make you think. I just switched my safety deposit from one bank to another yesterday. First bank charges $62.50 annually. New bank charges $46. 3" x 5" both places.

New bank does not have the boxes at every branch. I am thinking it is so they can set some branches up and take them down more quickly. My annual fee is set up now to be auto-withdrawn from my checking account there, but it got me to wonder what would happen if they close my branch with my SDB. At the very least you should make sure they have a valid mailing address for the box.

I almost bought a safe, but instead am going to sell all of the stuff in the box, which I have been meaning to do for awhile anyway. The paperwork is already scanned, replaceable, and backed up in triplicate including cloud. Yeah, I know, the cloud is its own security hazard.
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Old 05-07-2016, 10:39 AM   #5
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Slightly off topic, but what would you consider to be the advantages of a safe deposit box vs. a high-quality fireproof home safe? I have been debating for years whether to get a SDB at my bank, and I've occasionally pondered whether a good fireproof home safe would be just as good for my needs. Of course, the safe would have to be securely bolted in place to rival the security of a SDB. Any thoughts on one vs. the other?
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Old 05-07-2016, 10:46 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Sojourner View Post
Slightly off topic, but what would you consider to be the advantages of a safe deposit box vs. a high-quality fireproof home safe? I have been debating for years whether to get a SDB at my bank, and I've occasionally pondered whether a good fireproof home safe would be just as good for my needs. Of course, the safe would have to be securely bolted in place to rival the security of a SDB. Any thoughts on one vs. the other?
I did that, gun safe actually as I needed to lock up some valuable 1911s. I see no advantage to a bank doing it. Yes the safe needs attached.

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Old 05-07-2016, 10:51 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by marvholly View Post
I live in IL.

I don't think you need to physically visit the box, just paying the annual rental counts. I know because my Mom passed in 2004 and I don't think my Dad ever had occassion to go to the box and he passed on in 2013.
I completely agree and in most cases that is the way it works. However, I have read in the past where in one state the failure to appear in the bank and sign the log during the required time, was used to by the bank/state to establish "abandonment". Every state and bank plays the game a bit different. Then there is always the competency of the players involved.
The point in the AARP article is that as states look for more revenues, tightening up on "unclaimed property" is a relatively easy source to pick up bucks without trying to pass a tax.
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Old 05-07-2016, 11:08 AM   #8
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Two weeks ago. When we travel our habit is to take any valuable jewelry or documents to the safe deposit box vs leaving them the unoccupied condo for six or eight weeks. That means a minimum of four trips to the box to deposit and withdraw. Plus, I maintain an asset listing that I update once a year. Sometimes I make a trip for this.

Our son has access to our box. I had access to my mother's box. When she passed away the bank told me that they would 'seal' the box when they rec'd the death certificate. We were able to get into the box in the intervening period and take out items that we did not want sealed until after probate was completed.

Never heard of anyone loosing the contents because they had not been in the box. Seems to me as long as the rent gets paid it should be no one's business. Entirely different story of the box rent is not being paid.
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Old 05-07-2016, 11:14 AM   #9
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Two weeks ago. When we travel our habit is to take any valuable jewelry or documents to the safe deposit box vs leaving them the unoccupied condo for six or eight weeks. ....
That is something that I'd never thought about (of course, we aren't yet traveling like we plan to).

We don't really have any jewelry that we would consider high monetary value; OTOH, sentimental value... Thanks for passing this along.
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Old 05-07-2016, 11:26 AM   #10
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Two of the hardest but most satisfying projects I undertook this year were undergoing thorough and complete estate planning and create an emergency disaster plan. I wanted a disaster plan such that if my property and all contents were destroyed by fire, earthquake or other catastrophe I could recover with the minimum of effort. Between being adequately insured and having the ability to access everything I need, I am confident I could recover from any disaster relatively quickly. Nothing is foolproof, but this is as close as I could get .

This took an extraordinary amount of thinking through and weighing alternatives but I devised the following plan:

1) Originals of all important and vital documents are kept in a safety deposit box, with only myself and the executor of my estate having keys; procedures have been put in place with the bank for access to my executor;
2) Copies of all original documents are backed up on four identical thumb drives for ease of reference if needed;
3) Two of those identical thumb drives are kept at home, encrypted and requiring a password to be accessed which is written down nowhere, with one thumb drive kept in a fireproof safe and another elsewhere in the house. The reason for their separation is two-fold: if I'm robbed and someone takes the safe, I will have a back-up elsewhere in the house, and if a fire occurs the back-up may burn but the one in the safe will survive.
4) Two additional back-up thumb drives exactly identical to the ones at home are kept in the safe deposit box, neither of which are encrypted or require a password to be accessed in the event both thumb drives at the house are damaged, fail, or become inaccessible due to issues with the encryption.
5) All financial accounts are kept on a hardened, encrypted password manager located on each of the four thumb drives. The password to that password manager lives only in my head and that of the executor of my estate (the chances I and my executor will pass simultaneously are minute as we live in two distant locations).
6) I keep nothing in the cloud as I have been advised by a close relative who has been working in cloud security for decades that the cloud is not at all as safe as the public has been led to believe (his words: "after all, they've hacked the United States Personnel Office, haven't they? how many "breaches" is it going to take for the public to wake up and realize everything on the cloud is vulnerable at some point or another").
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Old 05-07-2016, 11:52 AM   #11
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Sometimes, visiting one's safe deposit box can cause trouble.


My mom and dad had a safe deposit box at their local savings bank going back to the 1970s. My mom, who oversaw the family finances, closed the savings account but kept the safe deposit box, which was allowed by the bank. After she died in 1995, my dad kept the box and paid the annual fee. I recall around 2002 my dad and I went to the box to clear out some old stuff. I had a few old coins in there so I took them.


Fast forward to 2008 and my dad wanted to add me to the box's ownership so we went there to remove some more items and talk to a bank rep about adding me. But the bank rep told us that this would require a new application form. And that would require opening an account there, something he didn't really want to do. The bank rep was rather surprised that he was able to keep a box there after my mom had closed the account although the bank's ownership had changed hands in the 1990s after she had closed the account. Anyway, my dad chose not to open a new account there. I suggested to him that he get a safe deposit box (with me as an authorized user) at the bank across the street where he had his regular account. That was 8 years ago and he still hasn't done it, not that there is anything of great value in the box any more.


But it was that 2008 visit which nearly opened up a big can of worms.
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Old 05-07-2016, 12:28 PM   #12
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I visit our SDB roughly once a month to exchange a disk drive we keep in there. It functions as off site backup of DW's and my computers. In case of fire or theft. We keep most everything we can digitized (photos, various documents, etc) so we don't want to risk losing all that.
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Old 05-07-2016, 12:57 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Sojourner View Post
Slightly off topic, but what would you consider to be the advantages of a safe deposit box vs. a high-quality fireproof home safe? I have been debating for years whether to get a SDB at my bank, and I've occasionally pondered whether a good fireproof home safe would be just as good for my needs. Of course, the safe would have to be securely bolted in place to rival the security of a SDB. Any thoughts on one vs. the other?
Depending on the safe, they can be opened in seconds with a magnet as this YouTube video demonstrates:

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Old 05-07-2016, 02:13 PM   #14
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We visit our safety deposit box every time we go on a major trip as we store our sensitive papers and backup drives there. We also use it as offsite storage for additional backup drives.
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Old 05-07-2016, 03:00 PM   #15
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I don't have anything of great value, and everything "valuable" I do have could be replaced if necessary. It would be a pain (passports, car titles, etc.), and some things would cost money, but they could be replaced.

Every "important" document has been scanned into a pdf file and is stored on several redundant secure hard drives and thumb drives, so that would be my basis for the replacement process.

Although I keep those redundant backup drives in various places that seem to me fairly secure in the event of fire or burglary, I would be happy to have an offsite backup location as well. But where?

A safe deposit box at a local bank is of course an option, but even if I got one for free I think it would be more of a nuisance than I want.

No relatives around here, so their homes wouldn't be possible.

Cloud backup is an option, but I'm the kind who would always worry about security no matter how securely the files were encrypted.

Seems like someone probably has a solution that would make me happy, but I haven't found it yet.
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Old 05-07-2016, 03:14 PM   #16
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I think a high quality gun safe, bolted to the house, is better for many. It certainly is easier. I used to be a collector of coins and stuff. I have since sold them. However, for many years they sat in a safe deposit box and I never saw them. Not a very fun collection if they sit at the bank. At least at home you can see them if you want. Plus, more importantly, you can put all your family photos in a big gun safe. To me the fire proof rating is even more important than the lock!
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Old 05-07-2016, 03:21 PM   #17
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We also keep a backup disk of our photos in our safe deposit box. Just started doing this a few months ago. Those small 2TB disks are amazing. Fast as well. Plus they fit very neatly into our SDB.

Until last year, we wrote the cost of our SDB off on our taxes so the cost was very low.. Not permitted any more so the cost has gone up for us.
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