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Planned Giving

How to Keep Your Documents Safe

What Should and Should Not Go in a Safe-Deposit Box

Where do you keep important documents such as your will, mortgage papers and birth certificate? Are they tucked away in a desk drawer or stuffed into your filing cabinet? There’s a better place for them.

A safe-deposit box offers a protected place for some of your most valuable items. Found at many banks and credit unions, a safe-deposit box can cost as little as $50 a year and up to more than $400.

Not everything should be kept in a safe-deposit box, though. Here are the types of documents that belong in one and those that should stay close to you.

What to Keep in Your Safe-Deposit Box

  • Insurance policy documents
  • Birth, marriage and death certificates
  • Adoption papers
  • Mortgage papers and deeds
  • Stock and bond certificates
  • Personal items that have sentimental value and would be difficult to replace

Tip: Keep a separate list of items in your safe-deposit box and make sure you check your box at least once a year—if only to keep from forgetting where you hid the key.

What not to Keep in Your Safe-Deposit Box

These items, though important, should not be kept in your safe-deposit box. Instead, keep them somewhere safe at home such as in a fireproof, waterproof safe or lockbox.

  • Original copies of your will and power-of-attorney documents
  • Your “digital estate”: online accounts, logins/usernames and passwords
  • Medical care directive papers
  • Funeral or burial instructions
  • Cash

Don’t Forget the Valuable Places

Now that you know how to keep valuable documents safe, discover how you can include the places you value in your future plans, too. Contact Gretchen E. Miller, J.D. at gemiller@uwm.edu or (414) 229-3067 to learn more.

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