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For greater security, many owners of physical precious metals store some or all of their holdings in bank vaults or in bank safe deposit boxes. In general, this would tend to be safer than hiding them or putting them in a safe at home or a workplace.

But will you continue to have the ability to withdraw your physical precious metals from bank storage or bank safe deposit boxes at your discretion? There are some signs that the security of your precious metals stored at banks may not be as secure in the future as you might think.

Take the obvious circumstance applicable today. When someone dies who has a safe deposit box, the bank is supposed to seal access to the contents until they can be opened under controlled circumstances where all the contents are inventoried for estate purposes. Therefore, someone who wants to keep knowledge of the existence of these assets private should avoid storing them in a bank safe deposit box.

When MF Global, a major global financial derivatives broker and commodities brokerage, went bankrupt in 2011, precious metals guru Gerald Celente had some allocated precious metals stored with the company. In theory, allocated vault storage means that specifically identified assets are property of the account owner and are not assets of the bank or company storing the assets (which is the riskier circumstance with unallocated storage). Therefore, they are, in theory, not subject to third-party claims against the bank or company that arranged for the storage. For months, Celente reported that he was unable to withdraw his physical precious metals from this company. I suspect he never did.