Why a Home Inventory is Important
With recent news of the staggering wildfires in the western U.S. and the high number of destructive hurricanes, not to mention all the other natural disasters that occur throughout the year, a home inventory is more important than ever. You may think it’s unnecessary or excessive but if you’ve ever known anyone who lost their home in a fire or natural disaster, you would think otherwise.
Would you be able to recall all the possessions you’ve accumulated over the years? The truth is, less than half of American homeowners have a home inventory and of those who do, even fewer have reviewed or updated it in the last year. In addition to being prepared for disasters, there are other reasons a home inventory is important and useful:
· To make sure your homeowner’s insurance coverage is adequate. The value of possessions - cars, boats, recreational equipment, art collections, jewelry - often exceeds the value of the house.
· Getting ready for a move. An inventory greatly aids in documenting the location of items in a move, especially if items will be temporarily stored.
· To create an estate valuation for preparation of your will or trust.
· To allocate possessions to your heirs upon your death.
· To prepare for a divorce settlement.
· To track home maintenance and home improvement projects.
Did you know home inventories are a service provided by professional organizers? As we help you edit and organize your possessions, we’re in a unique position to provide this add on service. An important part of my own business is helping my clients gather and organize their important life documents. Preparing a home inventory is a piece of that process.
A home inventory can be as simple or detailed as you like. The complexity largely depends on the level of highly valuable items you have which require documentation and appraisal. At a minimum, an inventory should include the following:
· Photos - exterior house views, room views, and individual high value items. The room view should capture the ceiling fixtures, flooring, rugs, walls, furniture and contents of the cabinets. You may also capture a walk-through video.
· Descriptions of the condition of the rooms as well as details of valuable individual items (serial and model number, brand, historical information). Documenting details of family heirloom items is also a great way to capture the history for future generations.
· Appraisals and receipts for high value items.
· Contents of safe deposit box or safe.
· Contents of outside storage units.
· Future intentions. Do you have a specific charity you would like things donated to or is there a particular family member you would like to give an item to?
The format of the inventory can be as varied as the level of detail, ranging from a hand-written document to a cloud-based app. At a minimum, it should be scanned and stored off-site in several places including electronic backup. Make sure to share this information with family and the executor of your estate. Don’t forget, it’s a living document so be sure to update at least once a year to capture disposed or new possessions as well as improvements to your home.
Check out Pinventory®, new inventory application developed by a fellow organizer. It's a great product that will allow you to create your own inventory using your phone and computer. As always, if you need help with your home inventory, let me know!