SAFETY DEPOSIT BOXES: Things to consider : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

The FBI ... continued to search for the "extremely sophisticated" thieves who bored a hole through the roof of a Seattle bank and broke into scores of safety-deposit boxes ....

Several years ago there was a fascinating in-depth investigative report on a women who had over a million dollars in cash and jewelry in safe deposit box. All stolen. Never was made public when it happened, nor exactly how it happened. No obvious break-in. Apparently when this occurs, it rarely is made public..

Banks (under pressure) will make settlements, but you need hard proof of what's in those boxes. Part of settlement with bank is that details cannot be made public. That's why many are unaware that safety deposit boxes can be and have been broken into.

FDIC: The Key to Your Safe Deposit Box Mark Mellon, an attorney with the FDIC in Washington, says that if a local, state or federal law enforcement agency persuades the appropriate court that there's "reasonable cause" to suspect you're hiding something illegal in your box (guns, drugs, explosives, stolen cash or money obtained illegally), "it can obtain a court order, force the box open and seize the contents." But what about non-criminal matters, such as a dispute with the Internal Revenue Service, a company or other people over money they say you owe? McGuinn of Safe Deposit Specialists says the IRS can "freeze" your assets (effectively placing a hold on your bank accounts and safe deposit box) until the dispute is resolved. Private parties also can freeze your assets but doing so involves going before a judge and proving that there's a legitimate dispute over a debt.

Safe Deposit Boxes are not insured by FDIC. The contents of a safe deposit box are NOT insured by the FDIC, nor, generally, by the bank where the box is located. (Make sure you read the contract you signed with the bank when you rented the safe deposit box in the event that some type of insurance is provided; some banks may make a very limited payment if the box or contents are damaged or destroyed, depending on the circumstances.) If you are concerned about the safety, or replacement, of items you have put in a safe deposit box you may wish to consider fire and theft insurance. Separate insurance for these perils may be available; consult your insurance agent. Usually such insurance is part of a homeowner's or tenant's insurance policy for a residence and its contents. Again consult your insurance agent for more information. If floods and earthquakes have been known to occur in your location, you may want to look into insurance against these natural disasters.

In the event of a bank failure, in most cases an acquiring institution would take over the failed bank's offices, including locations with safe deposit boxes. If the FDIC conducts a payoff because no acquirer can be found, boxholders would be sent instructions about removing the contents of their boxes.

A safe deposit box is a veritable necessity for keeping things like offshore bank books, precious metals certificates, bearer securities, cash, coins, etc. Yet a safe deposit box can create its own problems.

One obvious problem is that upon death of the box holder, the bank is required to deny access to the box until a properly appointed executor and an IRS agent open the box. The IRS will presume that all assets are the property of the deceased ... But there are other safe deposit box problems that are at least as important as dealing with the box upon death. For example, if the box is in one name only, many banks will not honor a power of attorney to let somebody else have access to the box in an emergency, unless the power of attorney is signed in person in the bank.

GOOD ADVICE HERE: Homeowners Policy can cover some of what's in safe deposit box.

-- Cheryl (, July 08, 1999


I believe in an earlier thread it was established that keeping cash in a safe deposit box is illegal.

-- Dog Gone (, July 08, 1999.

Legal, smegal, who cares? Remember, ALWAYS remember:

... "What governments cannot find, they cannot steal." ...

Got cash -- hidden? As in "nobody knows" but you and yours (the ones you trust, anyway...).

-- King of Spain (, July 08, 1999.

"The Safe Deposit Box Operation product is an old DOS software program that has been discontinued and will not be upgraded to be Year 2000 compliant. We do not currently anticipate a Year 2000 compliant replacement for the Safe Deposit Box Operation software in the future."

Something to check out with your bank. AND ...

Demand for safe deposit boxes has some bank customers locked out Want to stash your cash for Y2K? Get in line.

The hottest service a bank has to offer these days is somewhat small and costs extra. It's a safe deposit box.

Consumers must wait months or even years to put their name on a box at some Twin City bank branches.

In addition, some banks are receiving unusual requests from people who want to place cash in a safe deposit box around the turn of the millennium for fear of Year 2000 computer glitches. For those people, the key to a safe deposit box is the word "safe."

Norwest Bank, owned by San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co., plans to convert at least two bank branches slated to close in Plymouth and Woodbury into staffed, safe deposit box centers with no other bank services.

Liberty State Bank has 100 people waiting up to three months for one of its 2,700 safe deposit boxes, said vice president Joan Peper, vice president for the single-office St. Paul bank.

Big banks "have cut back on services, closed branches and cut down access to safe deposit boxes to three or four hours a day," Peper said. "That's where our demand is coming from. Basically, the consolidation and closings of banks have left people out of the loop."

The safe deposit box shortage is not universal. While some banks don't have enough boxes at certain branches, other banks have an excess. The size of the problem appears to be tied to the size of the bank and where it is located.

Convenience and proximity to home are major factors in choosing where to rent a box, said Charlotte House, vice president of marketing for St. Paul-based Cherokee State Bank. Only 10 percent of 690 safe deposit boxes at its Grand Avenue branch in St. Paul are not rented, but other branches have more than 50 percent availability, she said.

Although 14 percent of Norwest's 160,000 safe deposit boxes throughout Minnesota are available, there's a definite crunch in the Twin Cities area, said Colleen Ross, senior project manager for Norwest Bank Minnesota. Some Norwest Bank branches in the growing, western suburbs have no safe deposit boxes available, and "there's a two- to three-year waiting period," she said.

Norwest's two planned safe deposit box centers will offer hundreds, maybe thousands, of new boxes, Ross said. The exact number of boxes and the cost of construction were not available.

-- Cheryl (, July 08, 1999.

Only stolen money in a safe deposit box is illegal. The box can be opened if there is just cause. This is where the other post went wrong. They were confusing your money in a safe deposit box as compared to drug money or someone else's money in your box. Again, you can place anything you want in the box as long as it is not obtained through illegal means. Also, the bank does not record what is in your box, you have the burden of proof and it is not FDIC insured.

-- Ned P Zimmer (, July 08, 1999.

Take it home and insure it with Smith & Wesson.

-- Lawrence (not@this.time), July 08, 1999.

Hi everyone,

I started the thread titled "It is ILLEGAL to put cash in a safe- deposit box." It was based on information I received from what I believed to be very credible sources (a competent estate planning attorney, and two bank executives). However, based on your responses, I tried to find a reference to the actual law with no success. I also referred to some of the links that were posted in response to my thread, and it appears that I may have been wrong. Perhaps I should have titled the thread "Is it illegal . . .?"

At this time, I am still researching the subject. If I find anything else I'll post it on a new thread. I guess the lesson I learned is to verify everything, regardless of how "reliable" the source seems to be.

Best regards.

-- Clyde (, July 08, 1999.

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