So you want to create a Personal Home Inventory? Kudos! What a wonderful thing to do for yourself and for your family and loved ones.
Before we start to talk about personal home inventory and how to do this, let's talk a little more about your inventory and how you may want to assess it. As you will remember from my story of Brad, keeping details and knowing what you have is very important and will pay off if you have any type of emergency.
It also will be very useful if you are applying for insurance coverage on your possessions. An insurance company will be able to offer better rates and will be more comfortable with covering you if there are adequate details about your personal home inventory.
In addition, if you plan to sell some of your belongings, you will find that the sale price will be higher and you will have a better negotiating position if you have certain details to entice the buyer. I have sold a couple of cars; a record of service will impress a potential buyer. Also, my husband sold a lawnmower for which he had kept the original receipt, owner’s manual, and service booklets. The new owner was very happy and my husband got more than what he expected for the equipment.
And one more thing. I almost hate to mention this but many families experience divorce. In order for everyone to be treated fairly, a good home inventory list is necessary. Many times an outside home inventory service will attest to the completeness of the personal home inventory. It is better to do this before problems begin rather than after. Sometimes in difficult divorce situations possessions tend to "disappear."
And here is one final thought why a personal home inventory is so important.
If you are in the process (or if your parents are in the process) of performing some estate planning, you will find a home inventory invaluable.
Legal documents need to be very specific to hold up against any challenge. If you are creating a trust to protect possessions and make sure they are passed to the next generation a home inventory list with prices and value is essential. If this is not done correctly a challenge to the trust could prevail. In the following discussion I will guide you through assessing your personal home inventory and documenting what is there. We will discuss where to start and how to accomplish the task. We will go through a personal home inventory checklist that you can use to make sure you have all the information you will someday need.
So let's get started. First let's talk about how much you have and what is appropriate.
The first step in getting a good personal home inventory of your possessions is to really look around and evaluate the best method of getting this done. Of course, the best thing we could do is start an inventory list when we first get out in life and have our first place. That is when we start to accumulate "stuff." However, at that age we are focused on much different things! So here we find ourselves, probably in middle or older age, and realizing this needs to be done. When you look around it may seem like a daunting task. But let’s break it down into manageable pieces.
First, how much do you have? If you are part of an average family, you probably live in a three to five bedroom house. Most homes have anywhere between 2000 sq. ft. to 5000 sq. ft. Depending on the place you live it can vary. Space is much more expensive in New York than in Kansas. Adjust to your circumstances.
Another consideration is what type of possessions you have. Most families have furniture, books and CD's, electronics, kitchen utensils, lawn and garden equipment, etc. Then you may have some collectables like a stamp collection, Hummel collection or something else that has worth.
You will need a few supplies to get this done. An easy way to do this is with a three-ring notebook, paper, a digital camera, and a little bit of research.
However, if you live in a museum, you have another situation! Some people have valuable art collections, antiques and collectables of all kinds. If this is what you are facing, I would not try to get this done by yourself. I would set the limit for calling for professional help at around $500,000 in value. Of course, if you have one item that is worth $500,000 that’s different, but use common sense.
Once you have this completed, move on to Step 2.