You’ve worked hard for decades, making sound investment decisions to ensure your future is just as you planned. You’re making sure there is enough money for the kids’ college and also for you to enjoy your retirement years. Then imagine that a disaster occurs (fire, burglary, tornado, hurricane – the list goes on), and without an inventory of the contents of your home, you don’t receive a proper financial settlement. Where do you get the money to purchase the remaining items you need?

A home inventory should be a piece of your financial planning. Without having the contents of your home listed and photographed, it would be extremely difficult (probably impossible) to remember all that you own(ed). Victims of disasters state they remembered and could prove between 33% and 50% of the items. This is mainly due to the emotional turmoil that is experienced. The stress does not allow for you to think clearly, thus items are forgotten and often remembered too late to meet the 1-year deadline to file a claim.

Another issue that can impede an maximized claim is that high-end items, or a higher-than-average number of items, often require proof of ownership. If you can’t prove that you owned a big screen television, purchased a top-of-the-line stereo system or had a television is just about every room in the house, it is probable that you will not receive a full settlement.

Many people who have endured this situation state they withdrew funds from an investment account. What will that do to your retirement plans? Your children’s college plans? Your financial future? In today’s volatile financial market, are you comfortable that you’re investments would be able to endure a disaster, too?

A smaller amount in investments means your estate will have less value, too. All the plans you had for your family, charities and others must be reworked, or possibly eliminated, because the funds you needed to recover from the disaster made these changes happen.

Few people like to think about dying, but it is a fact that every one of us will not be able to avoid. Your executor will be required to provide an inventory of your contents to the state. Think of the emotions your son or daughter, sister or brother, will endure as they go through your home, room-by-room listing the assets you left behind. They will be dealing with many other items as an executor, why subject them to this when you can have an inventory completed now?

Seek assistance if you don’t want to do it yourself. Most people agree it is important, but few have this documentation. Reasons people list for not maintaining a personal property inventory are that are they are too busy, it takes too long, they don’t know how, or realize they will not keep it up to date if they do create one.

If you are in one of these categories, seek the assistance of a professional to provide the service for you. Verify they are bonded and insured. In addition to the inventory service, the provider should also include secure backup of your records and a process in place to update your records annually. Without the updates, the report will be outdated very quickly.

A home inventory is a document that is more than just for disaster preparedness. It also serves as an important record for both financial and estate planning. While you’re alive, you’ll have the opportunity to maximize an insurance claim if there is a need. After your death, your executor will be spared a lot of time and emotional stress.

Author's Bio: 

Cindy Hartman is President of Hartman Inventory LLC, a woman-owned business that provides business and home inventory services. She and her husband Mike also own Hartman Inventory Systems LLC, a company that provides a complete turnkey inventory business package for those who want to establish their own inventory company.