Making a Household Inventory
submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
Do you leave your garage door open? It seems there are those who are watching to help themselves to otherís belongings. With the recent number of burglaries reported, it is important to be aware of what is going on in your neighborhood and know what possessions you have in your home and garage. Can you make a list of what is in your garage? Do you know what tools, beverages, automotive or picnic equipment you have stored and their value?
It is your responsibility to be good home managers and keep a household inventory. A household inventory is an itemized list of furnishings and other personal possessions.
The inventory should clearly identify the item and include the brand name, a brief description (color, size, style, features, unique characteristics, dealerís name, etc.) and where applicable the model, serial or other identification number.
An inventory provides a record for insurance purposes and owner identification in case of a loss. It helps determine the amount of insurance needed to cover possessions. If a loss is not covered by insurance, these records help prove the loss for income tax purposes. It is important to check your insurance policy to see what is covered and if it covers replacement values.
There are several ways to do an inventory. A combination of methods may be the most effective in establishing loss, ownership and value. Start by going room by room and make a list and/or photograph each item or area. Donít forget to do closets, drawers, attic, basement, garage and automobile trunks.
Methods of inventorying include:
Tape recording: An audio tape allows you to describe your possessions in more detail than writing.
Written inventory: Use a notebook to record the contents of each room or category (e.g., appliances, lawn equipment) on a separate page.
Computer inventory: Keep the same information in an electronic inventory. It would be good to keep a hard copy in case of computer failure.
Photographs: This is a good supplement to any inventory. Photos of each room or area help to show location and types of possessions.
You may want to engrave an identifying number on possessions such as bicycles, power tools, musical instruments, audio and video equipment.
Keep a master copy of the written or printed inventory and/or computer disc, pictures, tapes etc. in a safety deposit box or a home safe that is fireproof. A second copy should be kept in a different location.
Take time now to check your homeownerís or renterís insurance policy and do an inventory. It will be time consuming at the beginning but well worth the effort in case of loss. It is important to update the inventory every six months or when new items are purchased or items are sold or discarded. Remember to shut the garage door even when your home -- donít invite burglaries in.