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My bank cannot find my safe deposit box! Luckily I still have the original contract and the keys. They are currently researching what happened, but it doesn't look good.

I don't know when the box disappeared but I have a bank account with the bank, so they have my information and access to the funds that were supposed to be withdrawn for paying the fee.

The original contract states that they will notify me if the box is unpaid, and then put the contents into their vault. It doesn't say anything about the case when they lose the contents.

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    how long has it been since you visited the box? Did you pay the annual fee? Do you have the original paperwork, or any documentation that comes with the annual bill? – mhoran_psprep Aug 15 '13 at 19:45
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    Have you seen Answers about Safe Deposit Boxes on the US Comptroller's website? – John Bensin Aug 15 '13 at 20:05
  • did they pull the funds each year? How many years has it been. – mhoran_psprep Aug 15 '13 at 20:54
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    What does the original contract say about loss? Bank responsibilities? etc. – Chris W. Rea Aug 16 '13 at 0:02
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    The original questions remain: Did they contact you?, did they put it in the vault and then lose it? Did they send it to the state? how long has it been? – mhoran_psprep Aug 23 '13 at 10:11
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Unfortunately assets placed in a safety deposit box are not covered under the Federal Deposit Insurance Program (FDIC). Unless the bank is found to be negligent in the way it handled or protected your safety deposit box, neither them nor their private insurance company will reimburse you for the loss.

Find out if in the duration you had your box with them, they moved, transitioned or merged with another entity. In this specific situation, you may be able to demonstrate negligence on the part of the banks as they have seemingly misplaced your box during their transition phase, and depending upon the value of the items placed in your safety deposit box, you may be entitled to some form of recovery.

Some homeowner's insurance policies may also cover the loss, but if you didn't document what you kept in the box, you have difficulty verifying proof of the value. Valuables are often lost but documents can often be reconstructed. You can get stock and bonds by paying a fee for new certificates. For wills and trusts, you can reach out to the lawyer that prepared them for a copy. You should always keep 3 copies of such documents.

When you put stuff in the box, always videotape it (photographs can be challenged) but if the video shows it was put in there, although it can still be taken out by you after you turn off the camera, yields more weight in establishing content and potential value. Also know the value of the items and check with your homeowner policy to make sure the default amount covers it, if not then you may need to include a rider to add the difference in value and the video, receipts, appraisals and such will serve you well in the future in such unfortunate circumstances.

If the contents of a safety deposit box are lost because you didn't pay the fee, then depending on the state you are in the time frame might vary (3 years on average), but none the less they are sent to the State's unclaimed property/funds department. You can search for these online often times or by contacting the state. It would help for you to find out which scenario you are in, their fault or yours, and proceed accordingly. Good luck.

  • This is an excellent and accurate answer. It should be accepted, as there is nothing further that can be added at a general level, which is the scope here. – Ellie Kesselman Mar 29 '14 at 4:43

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