How to generate a household inventory

Protect your prized possessions and prepare for potential disasters by creating a household inventory.

Would you be able to recall everything you owned if your home suddenly burned down or was destroyed by a natural disaster? My guess is that this would be a difficult task, especially if you are under stress. One of the most important purposes of a household inventory is to provide proof of ownership for filing insurance claims in the event of loss by fire, flood, theft or other types of disasters. On the flip side, it helps you decide how much insurance protection you need to adequately cover your household furnishings and personal belongings.

From a financial stand point, an inventory is helpful  in planning and forecasting replacement needs for furnishings, equipment and clothing. It can also indicate the money value of your possessions for development of net worth statements, which show financial growth.

A household inventory is a collection of pictures and/or videos documenting all of your possessions. As part of the inventory, information would also be collected on the more expensive items. This may include the date purchased, cost, warranties and more. Once the household inventory has been collected, it should be stored in a safe location so it won’t be destroyed due to destruction of your home. Consider placing the household inventory in a bank safe deposit box, fireproof home safe or a secure online data filing system. With all the great technology available, creating your household inventory has never been easier. Most cell phones have the capability to video record your property. The most important step to take is to make sure that the information recorded is downloaded to a safe place and accessible when needed. 

Record your household furnishings and personal items in a systematic way. Inventory one room at a time and record everything in the room. Don’t forget to go into closets and take special pictures of the more valuable items. Open drawers and photograph or video record contents of each drawer. Lastly, record storage areas such as the basement, garage, attic and storage units. These areas need to be recorded in the same way as the interior rooms of your house. Take pictures of the whole area and open doors to cupboards, closets or storage chests.

When it comes to prized possessions, take extra care in documenting jewelry, furs, paintings, special collections and other valuables. Group small pieces of similar items together and place on a solid-colored rug or cloth. Document the brand name and, if the item is extremely valuable, include a member of the family in the picture as proof that the item is really yours.

Once the household inventory had been established, it needs to be updated annually, at the least. When updating, consider the following tips:

  • Major purchases need to be added to the inventory immediately
  • Small items should be done annually
  • Items that you no longer have should be purged from the inventory

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