by Matthew Perry
(last updated February 21, 2009)
C'mon, you know it sounds stylish. "Oh, I'll just keep that in my safe deposit box." These bad boys are in books, videos, and television, the perfect place to store something you want to keep extra safe. Most banks rent them out to their customers, and in many cases you don't even have to have an account with a bank to rent a safe deposit box from them. To get one of your very own, you just need to talk to a bank representative, pay the fee, and sign a paper.
Most people are surprised to find that the basic safe deposit box is very small—just big enough for a roll of wrapping paper, in some cases. Costs vary depending on what size of box you get as well as what bank you rent from, but a standard rate box will probably cost around $150 per year. Depending on what you want to store in your box, you may have to upgrade to a bigger (and more expensive) box. Also, to be safe, you may want to wrap the contents of your box in plastic bags. Safe deposit boxes are meant to be fireproof and flood proof, and the vaults that they're stored in are meant to be burglar proof, but they do have their limits. Some people prefer just to keep a fire-proof safe in their homes.
No matter what size box you get, you'll receive a key from the bank when you've finished signing all the papers. Your key will open one of two locks on your box; the other can be opened by bank employees. In addition to the double locks, only people you specify may have access to your safe deposit box. This is true even in emergencies—at most banks, even a person with your power of attorney cannot open your safe deposit box.
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