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This article brought to you courtesy of Paula Walker, of Confluence Law Center, Gresham Outlook Insider Estate Planning Expert.

Paula Walker

Carefully consider the handling of the tangibles that you place in a safe deposit box as part of your estate planning and managing your assets for distribution to your intended recipients. Safe deposit boxes are often used to keep valuable tangible items and sometimes even cash.

The contents of a safe deposit box are part of your estate and must be accounted for in reporting on the total value of your estate for estate tax purposes. Maintain an inventory of the contents of the box for your Trustee, or Personal Representative aka 'executor', in order to assist them in accounting for the content and the value that those contents contribute to your estate. Keep the listing of that inventory in the box itself. Include on that listing that you own all the contents, or specify which items you own if you share the box and do not own all that it contains. Keep a copy of that listing with your estate plan documents.

It is important to understand that you are the renter of the box, and the owner of the contents. You do not own the box, the institution does. The inventory serves as proof of what you own, whether you are the sole lessee of the box or a joint account holder.

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