Imagine having to remember and describe every item in your home, especially after you've been the victim of a fire, theft, or natural disaster. Rather than relying on your memory, you may want to prepare a home inventory — a detailed record of all your personal property. This record can help substantiate an insurance claim, support a police report when items are stolen, or prove a loss to the IRS. Moreover, it provides a list for estate planning purposes should you want to make specific bequests of certain property or want to help your heirs with getting organized for the eventual administration of your estate. Here are some tips to get started.
Tour your property. A simple way to complete your inventory is to make a visual record of your belongings. Take a video of the contents of each room in your home and spaces where you have items stored, such as a basement, cellar, garage, or shed. Be sure to open cabinets, closets, and drawers, and pay special attention to valuable and hard-to-replace items. You can also use the tried-and-true low-tech method of writing everything down in a notebook, or use a combination approach. Mobile inventory apps and software programs are available to guide you through the process.
Be thorough. Your home inventory should provide as many details as possible. For example, include purchase dates, estimated values, and serial and model numbers. If possible, locate receipts to support the cost of big-ticket items and attach copies of appraisals for valuables such as antiques, collectibles, and jewelry.
Keep it safe. In addition to keeping a copy of your inventory in your home where you can easily access it, store a copy elsewhere to protect it in the event that your home is damaged by a flood, fire, or other disaster. This might mean putting it in a safe deposit box, giving it to a trusted friend or family member for safekeeping, or storing it on an external storage device that you can take with you or on a cloud-based service that provides easy and secure access. I like to use my financial planning software provider, E-Money, that can act as a secure storage vault for these types of items.
Update it periodically. When you obtain a valuable or important item, add it to your inventory as soon as possible. Review your home inventory at least once a year for accuracy. You can also share it annually with your insurance agent or representative to help determine whether your policy coverages and limits are still adequate.
Don’t forget about estate planning. Don’t forget to tie your personal property to your estate planning and communicate your wishes to your children and/or grandchildren either informally through a separate memorandum or in your estate planning documents. Often times, it is the devise of personal property that can cause the most friction among heirs.
Modified by Oasis Wealth Planning Advisors with initial preparation by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2017.