Spring can bring severe weather, and recent storms in the area are a reminder that they can strike anytime without much warning. One way homeowners and renters can be better prepared is to make or update a household inventory.
A household inventory is an itemized list of your personal belongings. It provides a method of knowing exactly what personal property you own. In the event of a loss, recalling a list of belongings from memory is difficult. It's easy to overlook items that were not used on a regular basis. For instance, after a summertime loss, out of season items such as winter coats and holiday decorations could be overlooked.
There are many other reasons to take an inventory. It gives a record of personal belongings for insurance purposes, an approximation of the value of items owned to determine needed insurance coverage, for a personal net worth statement and in planning replacements of furnishing and equipment.
Store one copy of your household inventory away from the house such as in a safe-deposit box or with a relative or friend. A working copy can be kept at home. Remember to keep all copies up to date and compare them on a semi-annual basis.
If the written inventory is on a computer, back it up on a flash drive or CD. Also print a copy in the event the computer crashes or is lost or stolen.
To jump start the task, photograph or videotape what is in each room of your home. Photograph open closets, cabinets and drawers. Take close-ups of unique or expensive items to document their existence and condition for insurance purposes. Keep the photos with the written inventory. Save photos to CDs or have multiple sets of prints made.
Be sure to include small items such as silverware, linens, clothing, small electric appliances, tools, office equipment, recreation equipment, and items normally stored in the garage, basement or out-buildings. Also include any personal items owned by family members but not always stored at home such as musical instruments or tennis rackets kept in school lockers.
When listing the items, include the original cost, the date purchased, any alterations or repairs done on the item and the corresponding cost, especially if that repair or alteration made the item appreciate in value. Inventories can include the current cash value of the item. This is useful in determining net worth or the amount of insurance coverage to have on personal property.
Any items that are worth more than they appear such as antiques or original works of art, should be given special consideration. Get an expert's appraisal to determine their worth.
Use a separate page for each room. Leave space on each page to add new acquisitions. Make needed changes and delete discarded items.
When describing items, be as specific as possible. For furniture, include the color, wood type and size. For appliances, record the manufacturer, the model, the serial number and size.
A household inventory can be found on the Southwind Extension District website www.southwind.ksu.edu under the home and family link. The forms should be saved to your computer or a flash drive before working on them. The initial investment of time in preparing an inventory may seem great, but once completed, annual updating will take little time. Knowing what you have could save much time and frustration in years to come.