The primary reason to have a complete and detailed home inventory is to be sure that you can get the maximum payment available for an insured loss. Such losses can be the result a fire, major theft, or a natural disaster. Not all natural disasters are covered by a renter's or home owner's insurance policy, so be sure to check that. These disasters come in many forms: tornado, hurricane, flood, earthquake, or even a neighbor's tree falling on your house. For any of these situations, it is important to be able to document the items lost or damaged, and the ownership or purchase history, cost, etc.
In addition to the tangible household belongings, you also have numerous records and documents you should protect. These might include deeds and titles; tax returns and related supporting documents; birth, death, and marriage certificates; adoption papers; wills and powers of attorney; legal filings and court decrees; military records, retirement or pension plans and beneficiary records; disability and unemployment benefit records; passports and social security cards. Items in this list don't typically expire or change over time, but may be added to as the years roll by. Insurance policies and related documents should be retained, but will frequently change from year to year. While these documents don't necessarily have any inherent value themselves, you never know when you might need access to them. This is especially true in case of a natural disaster, which is why you should have a copy of these documents somewhere in addition to you home.
You should probably also include in this list of "intangibles" the warranty information for appliances and major electronics. You don't need to keep instruction manuals, but you might want to record model numbers so that you can download the correct information from the web.
If this sounds like a big job, it is. The good news is you don't have to do it all at once. Start with the most important items, and then add to the list whenever you can. Additionally, add to the list as you add belongings. Especially add new records as they become available, typically year-to-year, such as tax records. Be sure to set up a plan so that you are making progress along the way.
But there is something else you can do as well. Organize for Serenity offers a personalized inventory creation service that allows us to create the initial inventory: We do as much as you want, and you can pick up where we stop.
We use a cloud-based inventory facility, called Pinventory, that you can access from your computer or mobile device. Your information is securely stored offsite, regularly backed up, and instantly available from an app or browser. Then you can update your information, add new items, or print reports whenever you want.
Home Inventory Creation is a standalone service offered by Organize for Serenity, but it is also closely related to any decluttering or downsizing project, as well as to an estate sale. All of these involve various aspects of identifying individual items, photographing them, and documenting/describing them:
- For a MaxSold Auction, sales items are brought together into LOTS and segregated from all non-sale items. They are then photographed and documented to create the sale catalog.
- Any decluttering and/or downsizing and moving effort will involve gathering together items to be retained and segregating them from unwanted items to be discarded.
In any event, you will already be making the inventory creation process easier by identifying the important items and removing the items that do not need to be included in the inventory.
Not surprisingly, as we age our views of life, and what's important, change. We become empty nesters, move into retirement, and start to enjoy the "golden years." We will probably move from the family home with too many bedrooms and too many stairs. In fact, we may move several times, into ever smaller residences. That means more times for downsizing.
We also accumulate more permanent documents and records that grow in importance as we prepare for our "declining years." Many times this involves the onset of illness, physical limitations, and perhaps even the death of a spouse. It is especially at this time that a complete, comprehensive, and detailed inventory of belongings and records becomes even more important.
If you started early to create your inventory, and maintained it along the way, the downsizing steps are much easier, and you and your family will not be burdened with decisions that could have been made much earlier. These decisions even can be documented in the Pinventory system itself. Additionally, you can identify items that you want to sell and have them automatically used to populate a MaxSold auction catalog. All the needed photos and descriptions are already there. The locations are known. There is no guesswork, and you will have eliminated much of the frustration your children and other heirs might have experienced.