If your home were to be destroyed by a storm or fire tomorrow, could you prove that you owned it, or what it contained?
A home inventory can help, and software tools -- simple or sophisticated -- can ease the process. Before deciding what tools you need to prepare a home inventory, decide what you want to accomplish. Ask yourself how you'll want to access the information, what format you'll want it in, and how detailed it needs to be.
It has to be something that you're willing to maintain and update, and for many people photos of rooms with close-ups of big-ticket items are enough. Then you can save it in a simple Word or Excel file, copy it to a CD or flash drive, and put it in your safe deposit box
On the other hand, some people find it helpful to have a home-inventory software product provide categories that guide them through the inventory process. And detail-oriented, tech-savvy consumers may appreciate the bells and whistles -- such as advanced search engines that let you easily locate individual items.
It's especially important that people living in areas prone to natural disasters have detailed home inventories. There are a variety of products to choose from; a Google search on "home inventory software" yields pages and pages of results. Your insurance agent may also have suggestions.
Most of the software contains the same basic features; evaluate the free trial versions to identify a home-inventory product you find easy to use. You'll stay more motivated to start and finish this important task.
You can download trial versions from most products' websites. Consider printing sample reports and having your insurance agent confirm they include all information you'd need in the event of a claim. And it's important that the software provide a robust backup capability that provides options for storing the data outside of your home for safe-keeping.
Whatever tools you use, even if it's a camera, a notepad and a piece of paper, do something. Should disaster strike, you'll be glad you did.
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