ROSELAND – Would you be able to list all the contents of your home if you had to? Most people could not, which is why it’s a good idea to create a written home inventory.
The New Jersey Society of CPAs (NJSCPA) explains why this is a smart step and offers tips on how to do it:
Three Important Uses
A home inventory can help you determine what needs to be replaced if you are the victim of a burglary, fire or other disaster. There are three key reasons that the inventory will come in handy. First, having a full catalog of your home contents should help you get a speedier reimbursement from your insurance company. It will also make it easier to identify any losses you might want to claim for income tax purposes. In addition, before any problems occur, the inventory will give you a realistic sense of what you have and help you decide how much insurance you need.
How to Get Started
An inventory is simply a list of what’s in your home, including a short description of each item. When you’re creating it, collect any information you have on the items in your home, including your purchase receipts, serial numbers and any appraisals that have been done. Organize the inventory by room, listing everything that’s in each location before going on to the next.
Don’t Forget Pictures
While a written inventory is important, it’s also a good idea to take photographs of every room to further document the information in your inventory. Take several pictures of each room so that all of the items are easy to see. Then attach these pictures to the related list in your written inventory. If possible, make a video of your home, walking slowly through each room and describing what’s being shown on camera.
Focus on the Valuables
Even the smallest or least costly items will add up if you have to replace them after a theft or disaster, so be sure to catalog everything. For clothing, it may be easiest simply to count all your shirts, pants, dresses, shoes and other kinds of apparel, rather than listing each item. The same is true of china, silverware and linen. Pay special attention to the most valuable things, including jewelry, art, antiques and electronics. Include as much information as you can about them in your inventory, and take pictures of each one. Contact your insurance agent about these items because some of them may need additional coverage depending on their type and value.
Keep It Safe
Store your inventory information in a safe deposit box or ask a trusted family member or friend to hold on to it for you. (It might be best to choose someone who does not live in your area, in case their home is affected by the same local disaster that affects you.) Also, email the inventory to yourself and to a friend so that you can download the file whenever you need it.
Turn to Your CPA
Remember to consult your local CPA with any questions about your family’s finances, including whether your insurance coverage is adequate and how best to protect yourself from risk. Your CPA has the expertise to answer your most important financial questions.
If you don’t have a CPA, you can easily locate one online using the NJSCPA’s free, online Find-A-CPA service. Just go to www.findacpa.org, and in a few clicks you can locate a highly qualified professional who can assist you.
For more information on various personal financial matters, visit the NJSCPA’s public service website at www.MoneyMattersNJ.com. While visiting, you can subscribe to Your Money Matters, the NJSCPA’s free, monthly email newsletter to receive valuable personal financial planning advice throughout the year.