You may be asking yourself, “Aren’t we busy enough without having to tackle such a huge project as creating a home inventory?” I am here to suggest that you should make the time to do so.
In the past several years, we have witnessed natural disasters that have left our fellow citizens with nothing. I am referring to hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, out of control fires, and mud slides, to name a few. Those of us who were lucky enough to avoid these catastrophic events sat back watching the horrific results on television and were first thankful we were spared and then settled into the assumption that it couldn’t happen to us.
As the baby boomers are aging, we are faced with our immortality and are beginning to address such things as our Wills and the importance of making sure our material possessions are left to those we wish to inherit them.
Perhaps you are facing divorce or bankruptcy or contemplating marriage (again!) and are considering a prenuptial agreement so that, in the event of a divorce, you won’t lose all of your earthly possessions to your ex-spouse.
Maybe you own a vacation home, an investment rental or a yacht. Or maybe you have inherited and amassed furnishings, art and collectibles over your lifetime and have little idea what everything is worth or amount to.
Now, picture the horrible possibility of a burglary at your home and the police ask for an itemized list of what was stolen.
For any claim you make with your insurance carrier for reimbursement of your losses, it is fair to say that you will want to provide complete and accurate listings.
There are many software programs available now to allow you to prepare a home inventory before you need it. Some insurance carriers even offer downloads of software programs to enable you to prepare your home inventory.
It can be a daunting undertaking and there are some steps you can do to prepare for the process.
It is my suggestion that you make a video of each room of your home. Then go room by room and make a list of everything and photograph it with a digital camera that you can upload to your computer. If you have good artwork, place a tag on the back of each painting identifying the artist, title of the work and the date it was made.
Any appraisals for furs, jewelry, sterling silver and other valuable items or collections should be collected and placed in a file folder.
If you do not complete a software program, you will have to make a list of each item to include the date of purchase, cost, serial numbers, warranty information, appraisals or current estimated value.
Some people inventory their books, DVD’s and even expensive clothing items. Antiques should be appraised by a reputable local appraiser.
If you prepare your home inventory with software, you should download it onto several CD’s. Give one to your attorney, one to your insurance agent or carrier and place one in your safe deposit bank. You should ask your insurance carrier if you are carrying enough insurance or if you need a separate rider.
Now is also a good time to identify those items you wish to leave to certain individuals in your Will.
If you are facing Bankruptcy or divorce, the CD you provide to your attorney will prove invaluable and time saving.
Consider including items in your garage and utility shed such as grills, gardening lawn-care items, tools, pool items, outdoor furniture.
I do not advocate listing every item in your kitchen, but you can group them to photograph on your dining room table to indicate your waffle iron, expresso machine, bread-makers, juicers and ice cream makers, etc. To have to replace all of these items would be costly.
If you can afford it, you may want to hire a home inventory specialist to assist you in this project. You still must identify your valuables but they can prepare the video and digital photographs for you and have specialized software approved by many insurance carriers. Some home inventory specialists will update your inventory for you on an annual basis. Just be certain that you hire a company whose employes are bonded and you might even check their references.
What will result from having a completed home inventory? You may be able to identify items to be sold or donated or even tossed out. You will have the peace of mind that your last wishes will be followed in terms of what you leave your family members and you may be able to scale down some of your accumulated possessions. But even more importantly, you will have a complete record to provide to the police or your insurance carrier in the hopefully unlikely event you require it.