Bank safekeeping really is safe

At my bank, I can buy Treasury notes and Federal Farm Credits, and have the bank hold them for me in safekeeping. If the bank should fail, what is the status of my certificates? Do I have a problem, or can I immediately claim them? J. W.

You do not have a problem, but you may not be able to immediately claim them, either. According to Robert Marquand of the legal department at AmeriTrust in Cleveland, bank safekeeping is very much like a safe deposit box you rent at the bank. Certificates held in safekeeping are placed in the bank's vault, but they belong to you. They are not bank assets. Should the bank fail, Mr. Marquand says , you probably could not get into the building for a while, while bank examiners went through the place. But as soon as it re-opened, you would be able to get the papers. To help prove ownership, it is a good idea to keep a record at home of what the bank has in safekeeping. This record should include the types and sizes of the certificates, date of purchase, and any numbers that may be on them.

If you would like a question considered for publication in this column, please send it to Moneywise, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115. No personal replies can be given by mail or phone. References to investments are not an endorsement or recommendation by this newspaper.

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