Keeping a home inventory list is one of those things that people would love to do, think they should do, wish they would have done (when it’s too late), but often don’t do.
As a professional organizer, I often suggest doing several end of life tasks NOW when it's much more convenient than the alternative - letting others decide what to do after you are gone. These could include:
creating a home inventory system
keeping an estate book with all of your important financial information
letting certain family members know where these things are in the event of an emergency
As shown in my organizing YouTube video this week, I recommend either creating a home inventory yourself with an Excel document or purchasing an already made system, like HomeZada or LifeInCase. No matter the option you chose, you will have to buckle down and survey your home at some point. This is a big undertaking but it can be broken down into chunks – a room per day or even per week – if you don’t have the time or energy to devote a full day to the task.
I also highly recommend taking pictures of your items while you are recording them, even if the system you chose does not have a place for pictures. You can always put them on a word doc and save it to dropbox, google drive, or your own external hard drive. That way you will have yet another layer of proof. Take a photo of the overall item itself, plus close-ups of the model/serial numbers if your item has them.
I also like to store the receipts of big ticket purchases (appliances, TVs, jewelry, etc.) in paper files, but the ink does tend to fade over the years. So scanning or taking a photo of these as well and adding it to your home inventory is another easy way to show proof of ownership.
When you are ready to begin cataloging your items (if you are creating your own spreadsheet) come up with categories that will cover all bases. A few examples are:
Date/Place of Purchase
Name of Item
Purchase Price of Item
Value of Item (this can be quite different than the purchase price)
Personal Details (things your family should know about the item)
Next create your documents, save them onto the cloud or your external hard drive, and make a note in your calendar to update your home inventory each year. If you use a digital calendar, set up a recurring event for every year and put in the notes section to add additional dates should you have a major life event – a move to a new house, a kitchen renovation, etc.
As an added bonus you can use the inventory you’ve created for homeowners or renters insurance policies. Think of how easy it will be to come up with an amount of coverage – just add all your value columns together and you’ll have a great start.
So please take some weight off your shoulders and consider creating a home inventory. It will help with insurance now and give your family directions on what to do with your items when you are no longer around. You can relax knowing that you'll be making it that much more easy during a difficult time. What a wonderful gift to yourself and your loved ones - peace of mind.