As you work with a trust attorney in Savannah, you will likely end up making a list of your assets. Some of these are tangible, such as property and heirloom jewelry. Others are not so obvious and could include important documents related to marital status or military service. Each of these items is an important part of the plan you put together with your estate planning lawyer, and each needs to be kept secure and in a place where you can find it.
Oftentimes, a safe deposit box at your bank is the perfect place to keep these kinds of assets. Obviously, you can’t keep a home or a piece of property in a metal container at your financial institution, but the related deeds and titles can definitely be safeguarded in a safe deposit box. Birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, death certificates, and military records are just some of the documents that should be safeguarded. However, you may find that you need access to them more often than is convenient to get them from your safe deposit box. A good trust attorney in Savannah should be able to guide you when it comes to which documents need to be kept at home and/or which ones may only require a copy at home while you keep the originals in your safe deposit box.
Who Can Access Your Safe Deposit Box?
One of the main reasons to rent and use a safe deposit box is because access to the contents is very limited. Other reasons include the fact that valuables are much less likely to be stolen or destroyed in a home invasion, fire, or natural disaster. It is possible to allow others access to your safe deposit box, and there are times when it can be a good idea. For example, the person you and your estate planning lawyer designate as the executor of your estate may be better able to do his or her job with access. Keep in mind, though, that the act of making them an executor of the estate can be enough to allow them access, although they will need the correct documentations and possibly a copy of your death certificate.
Additionally, someone you’ve given financial power of attorney may also be granted access in order to manage your affairs should you become incapacitated. In order to do this, you will need to follow the procedure laid out by your bank, which usually includes appearing in person with the other party so everyone can show identification and the new person can sign a signature card. This does mean that this person can access the safe deposit box any time, whether you are present or not, so there is some potential risk. Take care to thoroughly discuss the pros and cons with your trust attorney in Savannah before giving authority to access your safety deposit box to others.
A Final Note of Caution
Finally, for hurricane-prone areas, like here in Georgia, it is important to point out that safety deposit boxes are not flood proof. Because the bank has no liability for damage to items in the box, it is a good idea to weigh the risks and benefits of your storage options with your attorney. What is a good storage idea for one family may be a terrible idea for another. Again, your estate attorney will have advice on where to keep your important documents and valuables based on the type of items you are trying to store and where you live.