3 Safe Stories

I have 3 safe stories to share with you.

First of all, having a safe or safes, whether they are being used to store jewelry, important documents, passports, guns, special letters, or anything else you feel needs to be locked up securely, is a great idea...except when you die and you haven't communicated prior to your death exactly what the combinations are, nor have you alerted anyone where they might find the key or the combination to your wall safe or the location of your key to the safe deposit box at your local bank.

This can be easily avoided. You just need to make a plan and communicate it.

Don't let the following stories happen to you...

Safe story #1:

My father-in-law, John, died several years ago. He was 90 when he died.

John and his wife had been on a tour of Greece when he became too sick to remain with the tour group and he was not allowed to return to the US on a commercial plane.  As a side note, I highly recommend checking out MedJetAssist.com for any travel emergency. 

My husband, Tom, being the good son that he is as well as being John's only child, was in Florida at the time of this emergency.  Tom's passport was in New Hampshire, so getting on a plane to rescue his father was really not an option.  Tom made the necessary arrangements to have John flown in a medical plane (along with his step-mother) back to the USA at a huge financial cost.  At the time, there was no other option and cost was never a consideration. We intended to get John back for immediate medical care at home.  Sadly, John died a few months later.

John had a safe deposit box at a local bank near the retirement community where he lived. John was the sole owner of this safe deposit box, although Tom had his own signature on the bank card.  When John died, Tom was not allowed immediate access to John's safe deposit box due to bank regulations. While Tom had a key, his father's Power of Attorney ceased to operate- that's what happens when someone dies.  The contents of the safe depoit box were unknown too. 

Plans had not been previously  made to simply add Tom as a co-owner of his father's safe deposit box which would have given Tom immediate access.

The result:  John's estate was required to pay for the legal expense of probating the assets inside the safe deposit box, which, in the end, had little value.  Delaying immediate access to the bank safe deposit box in turn delayed the process of transfering the assets.

Moral of safe story #1- Always have at least two owners to a bank safe deposit box to order to  gain immediate access and avoid probate of the contents. 

Safe story #2:

A family friend had a small safe imbedded in the wall of her closet/dressing room.  As clever as she thought she was being, she did not share where the combination for that safe was located until asked by a loved one who had started having conversations around planning for the inevitable. 

For whatever reason, she wrote the combination to her wall safe on an inside page of the directory for a ladies club that she belonged to. This directory was stored in a drawer in her closet area underneath and amongst many other toiletries and other items piled in the drawer.

If a family member had not directly asked  her for this information, how was anyone ever supposed to find (guess) where the combination of her safe was written down?

As it turned out, when she died suddenly,  her family had immediate access. 

Moral of safe story #2- Don't assume your loved ones will just find your safe's combination, especially if you think you are being clever hiding it.

Don't mimic a Dan Brown novel of putting clues together in order to gain access to a safe. Tell at least two trusted people where the combination of your safe can be found, or, better yet, give them the combination directly. 

Safe story #3:   

Some friends, after painstakingly designing and building a beautiful waterfront home, moved in never expecting the inevitable to happen soon thereafter.

One evening, the wife decided that she had some indigestion and in order not to keep her husband awake, she slept in another room. Sadly, the next morning she was found having passed away during the night. The inevitable had happened unexpectedly.

Her death created a huge problem. Several wall safes had been built into the walls of this brand new home.  The wife knew the combinations to the safes, yet had not communicated those combinations to her husband, leaving the safes inaccessible until someone could bust them open.

This is a great example of just how important timely communication is. 

Moral of safe story #3- The moment you install a safe is the same moment you communicate the combination with at least one other person; better yet, tell two trusted people.

The moral for all 3 safe stories is that when you plan for the inevitable, you will save time, frustration, and money, in the near and distant future! 

Do you have any safe stories to share with me?