Recently I wrote an article about taking pictures and documenting your possessions (Article #26 – Documenting Your Treasures at www.apreparedhome.com). This is a follow-up article, with something that will actually be helpful. I have posted a form (see below) that will help you document and keep track of your valuables in an easy, orderly fashion.
My mom was actually the person that got me moving on it. She read my article and asked why I hadn’t made a form that everybody could use (including non-computer savvy people) that was easy to follow, easy to use and asked all of the potential questions that would need to be answered for the insurance company and/or police. Well “duh.” I guess that is one of the reasons we need our moms, so they can point out the obvious, that obviously we didn’t see. Thanks mom.
I created the form so that there could be two items documented on each page, just to save space (another suggestion from my mom). It also has all of the questions that need to be asked such as: Purchase Date, Purchased From, Purchase Price, Appraisal Value, Appraisal Date, Appraised By, Quantity, Item, Description and Comment/Notes. Under Item Description or Comments/Notes is where you can put the serial #, model # and warranty information. Of course you won’t have to use all of the questions on each item, but they are there when you need them. You can also use the Comment/Notes section to tell a story about the artifact (great-grandma’s clock that came across the plains in a wagon), or make special notes as to the disposition of an item upon your death (great-granddaughter, Emily Sue, gets the necklace with the blue sapphire surrounded by diamonds).
You will notice that the area on the right, next to the question section, there is a bit of open space; this space was left there on purpose. You will take digital pictures of each item that you want to document and then place the picture in that open area. The picture may seem a little small, but that is what is nice about having all of this saved on the computer. If you need to see more detail of the item, you can just re-size the picture to be larger while looking at it, and then re-size it back down to fit in its original place.
Another handy thing that you can do, if you have access to a scanner, is to scan the original sales receipt in and put it below the picture of the item. It might cover up some of the comments area, but you can adapt your information to make it all work.
Also, this form is adaptable to any situation that you have. If you have a bunch of similar items and you want to take a picture of all of them together, and document them all together, you can easily change it to take up the whole page. Too easy.
After you have completed, or as you are completing it, you can either print it off page by page and put your information in a notebook, under different sections like: tools, jewelry, appliances, art, vehicles, yard equipment, etc. and/or you can save it in variety of labeled folders on a thumb drive, a disc and your computer. The handy thing about this is that if you lose everything in a fire or flood, or explosion like in north Salt Lake last week, you can e-mail the information to your insurance agent. If you have something stolen, you can either e-mail the information to the police, or when they visit your house, you can physically show them your detailed report. I plan on saving mine on my thumb drive and my back-up thumb drive. If you do a little bit of work now, it could potentially save you a lot of grief later. Or, you can print it out and put it in a binder.
And as for the next time I write about something that you might find useful, I’ll try not to wait for my mom to point out the obvious, but instead I’ll try to be on the ball and get a form or spreadsheet made up so that you can use it right away.