|Get your finances in order before
4. Take a home inventory
Make a visual record of your possessions with a still or video camera.
Go room-by-room and take an inventory of all the items inside. Describe
the item, its cost and when you bought it. Note any serial numbers
or model numbers. Photograph the exterior of your house, including
landscaping, patio, fencing and sprinkler system. Include automobiles,
boats and RVs in your inventory and photographs. Review your inventory
every two to three years to keep it up-to-date. Augment the video
or photographs with a written record. List each item and its value
as well as any identifying numbers where appropriate. Put your inventory
records in a safe place such as a safe-deposit box.
5. Get a professional appraisal
Jewelry, art, coins, stamp collections and other valuables may need
a professional appraisal to support any insurance or tax deduction
claims. Be sure your current insurance policy provides adequate
coverage limits for these items, or have riders for them.
6. Keep copies of all financial
records in a safe place
Goldfarb suggests using a service that scans all of your important
financial documents and keeps them in a secure vault on a Web site
encoded with special passwords.
"A secure Web site is impervious to weather conditions,
a local disaster or even the failure of your hard drive. You can
scan anything -- passports, birth certificates, life and homeowners
insurance policies, marriage licenses or wills. Almost anything
that's written can be stored and easily available to you from a
If you don't want to pay a monthly fee for a service,
Goldfarb suggested scanning the documents yourself and burning your
own CD with copies of all important financial documents.
Be sure to keep the CD in a safe-deposit box or other
secured location not in your home.
You can also get a booklet from your insurance company
where you can record all account numbers and policy numbers and
household inventory and other relevant financial information. Give
it to someone you trust for safe keeping.