A safe deposit box provides a private, secure storage place for important papers. The boxes are available at many financial institutions, including the State Department Federal Credit Union. Other commercial establishments offer safe deposit services as well.
In some states, the safe deposit box is sealed upon the death of one owner until the tax authority has assessed the financial value of the contents. You should determine whether this or other access restrictions apply before deciding what to place in the box.
Do not place unregistered property belonging to someone else in a safe deposit box. This includes jewelry or bonds issued to "bearer." Original wills, cemetery deeds, and letters of last instruction, needed quickly in the event of a death, should be kept in a secure place that is more accessible than a safe deposit box.
Some Foreign Service families add the name of a trusted friend or relative to the signature card for their box while they are overseas. Choose carefully since, if the relationship deteriorates, removing a co-owner can prove difficult. In some states, making a change requires the box to be closed.
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