You might want to protect some of the assets you place in a trust fund in a safe deposit box along with important documents pertaining to the trust. Assets might include jewelry, precious metals or collections, but AARP recommends that these be insured. Documents might include your will, the trust creation document and deeds and titles to properties held in the trust.
Trust vs. Trust Fund
A trust is a legal arrangement that lays out how the assets of a trust fund will be managed and distributed. The creator (or grantor) places their assets into the trust once it's created, explains the American Bar Association. A grantor can also be an organization, such as a business.
Types of Trusts
Trusts are either revocable or irrevocable depending on whether the creator wants the trustee and other parties to be able to change the terms of the trust. They also have different tax benefits. People who want to create their own trusts and manage their assets placed there often create a revocable living trust so they can act as trustee and have flexibility in managing the trust’s assets.
Others create irrevocable trusts to ensure their assets are managed by a third-party trustee the way the creator wants the assets managed even after their death. You can create different types of trusts, such as a special needs trust, joint trust, blind trust, family trust or testamentary trust, explains Trust & Will.
Opening a Safe Deposit Box
Go to an institution (usually a bank) that offers safe deposit boxes to secure one for your trust. Bring the necessary paperwork for this process. This includes your trust documents and any identification that lets the bank know who you are and that you have the authority to open and use a safe deposit box on behalf of the trust. This usually means that you're acting as trustee of your revocable trust. The grantor can't legally serve as trustee of their own irrevocable trust.
Go through the process of opening a safe deposit box account. The steps will be similar to opening a savings or checking account. You'll fill out a form in the name of the trust, including the trust’s name and account number. You'll have to provide your name and signature.
You can leave instructions on the application telling the bank who else can access the box, if anyone. This might include a co-trustee, successor trustees or one or more beneficiaries upon your death or the death of the trust fund’s creator. Your trust document will be enough to give a successor trustee access to the box if the grantor/trustee who opens the box dies and has not named anyone else on the bank document as qualified to have access to the box.
Using a Safe Deposit Box
Visit the bank and ask to be let into the room with the boxes when you want to add or remove assets or documents from a safe deposit box or inspect them. You'll usually be permitted to examine your box contents in private. It’s a good idea to call your bank in advance to see if you need to set up an appointment if you want privacy, or if the bank has additional rooms you can use. Bring your identification and your safe deposit box key.
Steve Milano has written more than 1,000 pieces of personal finance and frugal living articles for dozens of websites, including Motley Fool, Zacks, Bankrate, Quickbooks, SmartyCents, Knew Money, Don't Waste Your Money and Credit Card Ideas, as well as his own websites.