1. List the items in each room. Have a family member follow you around from room to room to create a checklist.
2. Be sure to include wall hangings, artwork, drapes, curtains, carpeting, and personal items like toys, electronic equipment, jewelry and appliances. Don’t forget garden and exercise equipment, bikes, and outdoor furniture.
3. Jewelry and antiques should have several close up shots from different angles.
4. Note any scratches or damages on items. Take pictures of any damages for your records.
5. Check each item carefully for a serial number. Record this number with the item’s description.
6. For items without a serial number, create an identifying code by using numbers such as your drivers’ license number and numbering code (12357-01, 12356-02).
7. If you prefer, videotape the items in each room in addition to compiling the written inventory. Make sure the tape includes a detailed vocal description of each item. If you don’t have a video camera, still photos accompanied by an audiotape will suffice.
8. Don’t forget important documents. Make copies of all leases, automobile titles and registrations, drivers’ licenses, finance contracts, insurance policies and tax forms. Also include birth certificates for each member of the family, medical histories, passports, credit card numbers and a copy of your will. Store these in a fireproof file box.
9. Make copies of the first two pages of your federal and state tax forms for the last five years. Don’t forget copies of all bank account numbers, stock and mutual funds, certificates of deposit, bonds and other investments. File these with cancelled checks in a separate fireproof file box.
Make copies of all tapes, photos and files and leave with a family member and in a safe deposit box.