Personal Finance

Options For Safety Deposit Boxes

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  • Jan 11th, 2021 3:59 pm
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[OP]
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Aug 7, 2013
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Options For Safety Deposit Boxes

What is everyone using these days for a secure PO Box for important legal and financial documents? I'm also thinking of a secure place to store pass phrases for my crypto hard wallet etc. Do banks still offer secure po boxes? Any other options available?
Last edited by Jagstyles on Jan 8th, 2021 11:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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BeCr8ive wrote: What is everyone using these days for a secure PO Box for important legal and financial documents? I'm also thinking of a secure place to store pass phrases for my crypto hard wallet etc. Do banks still offer secure po boxes? Any other options available?
I'm not sure what you mean by a secure PO Box.

For important legal and financial physical documents (among other things), I will keep it in a safety deposit box at the bank.

For soft copies or computer files/documents, I generally will password protect the file and then just upload it to at least two cloud services.
Member
Sep 27, 2012
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GVR
lmcjipo wrote: I'm not sure what you mean by a secure PO Box.

For important legal and financial physical documents (among other things), I will keep it in a safety deposit box at the bank.

For soft copies or computer files/documents, I generally will password protect the file and then just upload it to at least two cloud services.
+1
OP, you're confusing safety deposit boxes with post office mailboxes.
[OP]
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shiire wrote: +1
OP, you're confusing safety deposit boxes with post office mailboxes.
Lol! I meant to say Safety Deposit boxes... Look, it's been a rough year :) Haha
[OP]
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lmcjipo wrote: For important legal and financial physical documents (among other things), I will keep it in a safety deposit box at the bank.
Are the small safety deposit boxes at the bank large enough for documents or would I need another size up from that?
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Sep 27, 2012
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BeCr8ive wrote: Are the small safety deposit boxes at the bank large enough for documents or would I need another size up from that?
I think we had to bend documents to get them to fit, so you might want a larger box if you don't want to fold them.

And yes, 2020 has been tough...lol.
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BeCr8ive wrote: Are the small safety deposit boxes at the bank large enough for documents or would I need another size up from that?
I have the medium size safety deposit box and it allows me to put my 8.5" x 11" (standard letter sized) documents flat. I've never measured it nor compared it with what the bank advertised to me when I rented it but the box itself is maybe 14" to 15" deep/long (and maybe 2" to 3" high) so after putting my standard letter sized documents at the back of the safety deposit box, there is room in the front for things like my passport, cards, jewelry, CDs/DVDs, etc.

I believe that the smaller (smallest) size safety deposit box has the same depth/length so roughly 15" deep/long but you will need to fold documents. It will fit a passport without folding (so maybe 4" or 5" wide) and is the same height (so maybe 2" to 3" high).

All of these values are approximate since I'm going by memory and I do know that my safety deposit box (which is the medium size) holds my documents without needing to fold them.
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Jan 21, 2018
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You can get a rental mailbox lots of different places, but they're not really secure. The employees of the mailbox rental place always have access, and the mailbox locks are flimsy.

Safety deposit boxes at banks are hardly secure either.

First, your rental of the safety deposit box at the bank is a matter of record, available to anyone with a law-enforcement warrant or court order. Don't keep anything there that you might not want to be available to someone suing you.

Second, Canadian banks are pretty cavalier with their safety deposit boxes. They can open them at their own discretion, whether on purpose or accidentally getting the wrong box, and take no responsibility for valuable contents that somehow disappeared:
https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/safety ... -1.5814592
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Scote64 wrote: ...

Safety deposit boxes at banks are hardly secure either.

First, your rental of the safety deposit box at the bank is a matter of record, available to anyone with a law-enforcement warrant or court order. Don't keep anything there that you might not want to be available to someone suing you.

Second, Canadian banks are pretty cavalier with their safety deposit boxes. They can open them at their own discretion, whether on purpose or accidentally getting the wrong box, and take no responsibility for valuable contents that somehow disappeared:
https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/safety ... -1.5814592
Something similar happened to my parents at Bank of Montreal when I was very young. They had an account with Bank of Montreal along with a safety deposit box with them. We then moved and they closed their account, kept their safety deposit box, and opened up an account at the closest bank (I was too young to recall which bank but I believe that they opened it up at a different bank as opposed to a different Bank of Montreal branch). In any event, also not sure if Bank of Montreal tried to contact my parents but to make a long story short, the Bank of Montreal opened their safety deposit box and the items were removed or sold so my parents lost what was in their box. Don't know if it was entirely the Bank of Montreal's fault but my parents have some of the blame here as well.

My parents still use a safety deposit box (but no longer deal with Bank of Montreal). I also use a safety deposit box. However, that being said, it is probably better/safer to purchase a fireproof/waterproof safe (at Canadian Tire, Staples/BureauEnGros, etc.) and conceal it within the ceilings/wall/floor of where you live.
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BeCr8ive wrote: Lol! I meant to say Safety Deposit boxes... Look, it's been a rough year :) Haha
You know you can change (edit) the title, right? Lol.
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Scote64 wrote: Canadian banks are pretty cavalier with their safety deposit boxes. They can open them at their own discretion, whether on purpose or accidentally getting the wrong box, and take no responsibility for valuable contents that somehow disappeared:
https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/safety ... -1.5814592
I thought they are quite secure and there needs to be two keys to open it up: there's and yours. They certainly imply that's the case because they charge a fortune if you should lose the key and claim they need to hire a locksmith to open it up.
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sheyenne wrote: I thought they are quite secure and there needs to be two keys to open it up: there's and yours. They certainly imply that's the case because they charge a fortune if you should lose the key and claim they need to hire a locksmith to open it up.
I've always been told that they require 2 keys to open it but in the above news clip/video, the banks actually drilled through the locks to open the safety deposit box. When I open my safety deposit box, I get signed in and then the bank employee turns one of their keys in the slot and then I turn my key in the same slot (some safety deposit boxes have 2 key slots but where I bank, they only have 1 slot). The key that the bank employee turns in the key slot doesn't/can't open the safety deposit box but there is nothing that guarantees that they don't have a copy of my key (or a master key which opens all boxes).

There is no way of knowing if they have a duplicate of your key and they can easily make a duplicate of the key. For example, if you've lost your key and you go to the bank to request a new key, they will get you a new key (charging you for that new key) but who is to say that they don't make a copy for themselves or when you sign up for the safety deposit box and they give you 2 keys (one is a backup), who is to say they don't have a third copy of your key.

It is like when you rent an apartment. The landlord gives you (possibly) 2 keys. That's not to say that he/she doesn't have a copy of that key (which they do since they need to be able to get into the apartment in case of an emergency) but it also doesn't mean that those are the only 2 keys in existence.

I had a key once that had an engraving on it which stated something to the effect of "do not duplicate". I "easily" found a locksmith at a shopping mall who told me that he could duplicate that key. I didn't take him up on that offer since I didn't really need a copy of the key but just stating that there could be multiple copies of keys and safety deposit box keys are no exception.
Jr. Member
Jan 31, 2008
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Barrie
Bank's don't have duplicate keys for your box. If you lose your key they have to drill it and change the lock. Similarly, if you don't pay your bill for the box they drill the lock to remove the box and store your contents/dispose of contents in accordance with bank policy.
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I personally have a fireproof safe.

Many lawyers now store your will for no extra cost in their vaults/storage and the executor just has to go to them with ID when you pass away.
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[OP]
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sheyenne wrote: You know you can change (edit) the title, right? Lol.
I actually didn’t. Will try to do that now. Thanks for the heads up. Lol
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Ardenn wrote: Bank's don't have duplicate keys for your box. If you lose your key they have to drill it and change the lock. Similarly, if you don't pay your bill for the box they drill the lock to remove the box and store your contents/dispose of contents in accordance with bank policy.
They can actually have or or at least can get a duplicate key for the box.

My contract stipulates that when I rented the use of the box, they gave me 2 keys and I must return 2 keys back to them when I decide that I no longer want the box.

I misplaced one of my keys (still had the other key) and my bank sent me a letter stating that they were increasing the price of the safety deposit box as well as increasing the charge to duplicate/replace the key. I searched for my misplaced key for a few days but couldn't find it so I decided to get another key before the bank increased the price (just in case the missing key never turned up). I didn't have to give the key that I did have to the bank to duplicate. They were able to order a new customer key for my box without I believe me having to surrender my key and I subsequently paid for the new customer key. A few months after that, I found the original second key... so now I have three customer keys (but I'm still only responsible for returning 2 keys to them when I no longer want to rent it from them).

That being said, if they need to get into the customer's box due to non-payment or other reasons, in the cases that I'm aware of, they will drill through the lock (as proof) and charge the customer to do this.
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sheyenne wrote: I thought they are quite secure and there needs to be two keys to open it up: there's and yours. They certainly imply that's the case because they charge a fortune if you should lose the key and claim they need to hire a locksmith to open it up.
They do need a lock smith to open it up...
They drill the box & then repair it.
People in skilled trades generally charge around $100 per hour. On top theres travel time & parts.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/MOSLER-M5700-S ... %3A2334524

Even a stinky used vintage one from ebay is $30usd.
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A safety deposit box will protect your documents in case of fire or flood, while a home safe probably won't.

But you should visit it at least every year and inventory the contents (take pictures) specifically to notice as soon as possible if something has gone wrong (box drilled, etc)

Remember two things though:
1- don't store your will in the box
2- your province's laws may require opening the box before a witness in case of death. So don't store things there that would embarrass your heirs.
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FrancisBacon wrote: A safety deposit box will protect your documents in case of fire or flood, while a home safe probably won't.

But you should visit it at least every year and inventory the contents (take pictures) specifically to notice as soon as possible if something has gone wrong (box drilled, etc)

Remember two things though:
1- don't store your will in the box
2- your province's laws may require opening the box before a witness in case of death. So don't store things there that would embarrass your heirs.
Bank vaults arent fire or flood proof.
They give no guarantees, or even advertise it as such.
I mean a fire or flood is unlikely. Because a fire would probably be put out before the vault cooks.
Exception is a natural disaster like forest fire where the vault gets engulfed in flames for days/weeks on end. Then yah all the stuff in there is toast.

The main and only feature to be depended on is security. Robbery or theft of a sdb is highly unlikely. But still not guaranteed. Just a very unlikely scenario.

You’ll notice every sdb agreement will say something along the lines “contents of sdb are not insured & bank has no responsibility for damage/theft of contents”.

Most people are probably better off with a fire safe @ home for documents and small bits of valuables. I would probably only consider an sdb if i have a lot of gold or expensive jewelry.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-i ... e30198863/

Not too expensive either

https://www.amazon.ca/Serene-Life-SLSFE ... 503&sr=8-3

$88 for your own safe

$50/yr for a small sdb
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UrbanPoet wrote: Bank vaults arent fire or flood proof.
With respect, you're missing the point

First, your home fire safe will probably not survive a real house fire, and even if it does it will cook any electronic media inside, and papers may be damaged by water.

Second, the bank is probably less likely to catch fire than your house (no kitchen, wiring all up to code, sprinkler system).

Third, and most important: the bank is not likely to catch fire at the same time as your house. It's an off site backup. So if your house burns, you're not stuck sifting through embers looking for a safe with a melted keypad.

And if the bank burns you order copies of documents while comfortable in your pyjamas at home.


Don't rely on home safes unless it's a back up to the primary back up which is your bank (subject to my caveats above).

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