Consider accessibility to bank box

Your Money

April 22, 2007|By McClatchy-Tribune

Do you keep important documents and valuables in a safe-deposit box at your bank? That's a smart idea, but you should also think about what would happen to the contents and how they would be accessible if something were to happen to you.

Only designated owners of a safe-deposit box can gain access to its contents, so if you are incapacitated for some reason, the same rule applies. You can also designate a power of attorney to have access, but be sure to specify that in your power-of-attorney document.

If you're not sure whether you should designate a co-owner, consider the risks. The co-owner can have access to your box at any time, without your permission. So it's best only to appoint someone you trust fully, such as a spouse.

Just remember, do not store documents in a safe-deposit box that would be immediately required by your survivors in the case of your death - even if you have a co-owner. The bank could be closed (for a long weekend, a holiday), and such important papers (like burial instructions) would not be accessible.

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