I've finally tackled a project I've been putting off for far too long: a comprehensive home inventory.
I was spurred into action when I heard about a home inventory software program called "Know Your Stuff," available as a free download from the insurance industry's trade association at this link:
I downloaded the program and fooled around with it for a bit, decided it's quite good, and tackled the project. In addition to being a basic database for your accumulated "stuff" the program is good in that it allows you to include a set of general photos of each room, then for each item there's space to paste in an individual photo plus a jpeg of a receipt or appraisal.
We've had all Terry's jewelry reappraised and I was entering that stuff in the program yesterday. Gold has gone up in value seriously. Plus I've put in all the china, silver and crystal based on Google searches and e-mails to places like Replacements Ltd. about the values, I've valued all the artwork based on online searches and e-mails to various galleries where we bought it. For us, jewelry, art, electronics, plus china, silver and crystal are where the money is. Furniture would be next on the list I guess.
The software is very nice, but as you can see the project is also a lot of work. Nevertheless, we believe it's worth the effort for a number of reasons.
1. The obvious one. In case of loss, the info is invaluable for the insurance claim. In fact, since the software is provided by the insurance trade association, there's a strong implication that if you do your job well in entering good and comprehensive data, claims settlements will be much easier, straightforward, less emotionally draining, and will work to your advantage because you have data instead of memories.
2. The info is also valauable for any estate planning issues you may wish to undertake. You know what you've got, so you can figure out who to leave it to in a comprehensive way.
3. You can carry the info across to your net worth statement (discounted for replacement vs. sale values) as a reasonably accurate valuation of your household effects.
Two notes if you decide to do one of these:
1. The data are only as good as your data storage scheme. I think that one protection CD in a fireproof safe or safe deposit box, plus another in the hands of a relative or friend should do the trick. Be sure to replace them when you make significant changes to the data set. The insurance people will sell you, for an annual fee, space on a secure server at a server farm in Switzerland (supposedly free of wars and "severe climactic events"), but I think that's excessive.
2. It's nice that the program is free, but it's just a download. If you're gonna store the data file, you ought to store the program as well, since it's proprietary. Nothing would be more annoying than needing the info and finding out that you can't run the program. Who knows, the trade association might stop supporting it for one reason or another. Anyway, they'll sell you a CD of the software on their website for eight bucks (it's in the "III Store." Well worth it, in my opinion.