1. The FDIC doesn’t insure the contents of safe deposit boxes. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures your loved one’s bank account up to $250,000. It does not insure the jewelry, coins, or other items in her safe deposit box, which means she’ll need to buy insurance for those things. Ask the bank about its liability for theft.
  1. Safe deposit boxes are not 100% risk free. Hurricane Katrina left hundreds of safe deposit boxes filled with water. The solution: Back up all documents and photos in the box by scanning and saving them on an external hard drive or USB drive.
  1. She won’t be alone when she unlocks the box. A bank employee must help your loved one unlock and remove the box from its slot in the vault. However, she should be left alone — either in the vault or a private room — to open the box and handle its contents. If she agrees, you can go with her.
  1. She may not have access to her box. If your loved one has not renewed her box on time each year, the bank will not let her (or anyone else) access it. Check on whether her account is current.
  1. Be sure the box accommodates what she needs to store. Small boxes are the least expensive, but they may not meet her needs. Ask about box sizes and determine if she can (creatively) fold or roll the documents and get them in without damaging them.

What other facts about safe deposit boxes should caregivers know? Any horror stories to share?