Safe Deposit Boxes: Safe? Or tsuris? – Harris N. Hershey Rosen

by Harris N. Hershey Rosen, contributing writer

If you have one – a safe deposit box – what’s in it?  And where is the box located?  Where are the keys?  Do you have a bank safe deposit box as well as a lock box or home safe?  If you have a bank owned one, how is it paid for?  Is the rental on automatic renewal?  If so, to which credit card or bank account is the rental charged?  And later, will you need the box at all?

Who is allowed to open this box? Only you? If you die, what position does this put your loved one, spouse, partner, or family in? Can they access what is in there? Is it something they will need in the immediate future – such as certificates for burial plots, etc? Your closest contact should be on your safe deposit box with you – and you should be on theirs.

Same goes with home safes – big ones, inside-wall ones, or little ones. Don’t keep those closest to you away from what they might need – when they might need it.

So many questions – all of which will have to be answered – either by you now, because you took the time, or by your survivors later, who may or may not handle arrangements and issues as you may want.


I asked the question if your safe deposit box was helping you to be safe – or giving you tsuris.  Tsuris is a Yiddish word meaning “troubles; tribulations; anxieties; sufferings”. That’s what you might be leaving someone rather than leaving them safely, and with peace of mind.  So don’t leave it up to your survivors to sort it all out – you could very well be leaving them with the basis for disputes or at least hard feelings.

So take the time. Do it now, and know that you will still be doing your part to promote harmonious family relationships. If you are like many of us you could not list what is in your box or safe. Can you? At least make a list on paper and put it where others will know if this is a priority-access item, in case of emergency. And if you leave something that won’t make sense to your loved one, but does make sense to you – an old photo or a piece of jewelry – or keys to “something” – at least think about leaving an explanation in the safe along with the item. That will save someone from literally years of trying to figure out why that item was so important to you. And that is Tsuris, for sure! Not a gift you want to leave them on.


Harris “Hershey” Rosen, is the author of WHY? Because I Love You, a book that says it like it is – “What you need to know when I die”. His book details methods to organize your important personal and family information for those who are left behind.

A graduate of Harvard, Hershey Rosen has focused on controlling chaos since 1954. He was a Financial Control Officer in the U.S. Army, where he received a Letter of Commendation for improvement to its worldwide accounting system. Next, on to satisfying everyone’s sweet tooth, he ran a candy company for 40 years, developing a system for locating ANY item housed in five factories, covering 600,000 square feet.

Following “retirement,” Hershey went on to become a mediator and settled over 200 disputes for the state of Rhode Island and The Community Mediation Center of Rhode Island. He was also asked to team-teach management courses at the University of Rhode Island, where he enthusiastically challenged the text book with real-life experiences, to the delight and edification of the students.

Always passionate about assisting others, Hershey has been a director or trustee of numerous boards and organizations. He has written Creating A Guide So Your Loved Ones Can Go On Living! to help others protect their spouses (and families) from the intense stress that will occur if one does not share financial information and knowledge critical to a functioning home. He then wrote My Family Record Book, expanding on the information in his first book, and finally, in 2020, WHY? Because I Love You was published.

Hershey, who lives in Providence, Rhode Island, can now relax (ha!) with his beloved wife, Myrna, and enjoy visits with their combined five children and ten grandchildren.

“WHY? Because I Love You” – available here: