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September 01, 2009


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Wow, most of those things I don't even know myself, don't know how I'm going to pass on that info to anyone.

This must be targeted to those weird organized people that I've read about.

In November 2004 my home was destroyed by a fire. Being a small business owner this was a devastating event that could have ruined my family. What made it even more devastating was when my insurance adjuster asked, “Did I have an inventory of what was lost?” I did not! The irony was, I had been nominated one of the “Top 25 Pros to Know” in the Supply Chain and Logistics industry and specifically on inventory control. However, my experience was in the warehouse and not the living room.

My wife (who was 6 months pregnant with our second son) and I, along with my 4 year old son were forced to stay in a hotel. Because I traveled extensively with my job, often my wife and son would travel with me. It was always a joy for my son to stay in hotels, he felt he was always on vacation. However, this time, after about 2 weeks, my son Gabriel came to me and said, “Daddy I am ready to go home!” But we did not have a home we could return to. He said, “He missed our two dogs Shaka and Baby”, who were left at the burnt out home because the hotel would not accept pets. After he walked away I cried and could not stop crying. Months went by, my son was born premature with serious complications, and I was not able to think about anything as I continuously blamed myself for not being prepared. Later I learned I was going to get burned twice because I did not have that inventory, which was crucial to complete my insurance claim.

I decided to take my inventory knowledge and move it from the warehouse to the living room. I spent my time rebuilding my house, because we could not find a contractor to take such a small job, and developing a program named, “Cover Your Assets”.


I am sorry for the difficulty you had with your fire. However, I sincerely hope you make no headway with any legislation requiring people to inventory their homes (I suspect you won't). We don't need government forcing certain behaviors on us and of all the things to force, I would put this one way down the list.

In addition, I do not understand what the big deal is with doing a formal inventory and I fail to see how this could hold up 80% of house rebuilds. If you don't have a formal written down inventory, you go through your house room by room in your mind and write down what was in it. I mean you live in the thing everyday, you know 90% of what is in it. Yes you will forget some things, but likely most things of reasonable value you will remember. I mean if it is the difference between getting my house rebuilt or not I just sit down, do my best and move forward. Perhaps it costs me a few thousand dollars in items I forgot about but really, what other alternatives are there.

Obviously a formal list is better but the problem with formal lists is they are only good for a year or two and then they are out of date again. Do you update yours every year? Perhaps you do due to your experience in the past. I would be willing to bet that if you got most people to do an inventory, more than 95% of them would do it once and never update it again (more than 95% will never do one so its an easy bet that if you forced them to do it once they would never do it again). And after a few years, a memory inventory is better than that.

Rene/Apex --

An even better option IMO:

Rene and Alex,

A shortcut option to home inventory is to upload and email to yourself (and perhaps also a trusted family member as a backup) 8-12 digital photos of each room in your house different angles so you have a record from which to assemble (and prove) your insurance claim.

Remember to photograph any barns, sheds and garages, as well as labels, appraisals and receipts for especially valuable items.

Good luck.


Great post. As we head into our mid 60s we have made known to our children our wishes for funeral/burial. However, we do not have a centralized list/system for disposal of our possessions, lists of accounts, etc.

We have decided to give ourselves a birthday present (in Oct.) of peace of mind. We will make lists, print them out, store them on CDs, send them to the kids and do whatever else is necessary. We live 2 hours from one son and 1200 miles from the other two. Obviously, they will need all the help they can get. Thank you for your insightul post.

Yes, the video or picture option is much more feasible. Who has time to create a list with 1000 items on it.

So to FMF and Mark, how current are your inventories. It seems like a task easily done and left to get stale.

Apex --

Mine is a couple years old. I need to update it.

Thanks! You just reminded me that I set mine down in the middle of organizing information, wandered off, and got permanently distracted. Now to spend the rest of the afternoon finishing that project!

Rene's story is heart-breaking. She reminds us that in addition to letting our families know where all our assets are, how to handle the bills, what our end-of-life wishes are, and how to dispose of the remains, we should inventory our homes, photograph everything, and store that information off site. My son is getting a copy of all this data.

Another thing to pass along are your logins and passwords to your accounts online. My husband and I are starting to catalog our many many logins and passwords on an encrypted truecrypt file.

My mother got sick in April of this year and had to be hospitalized. She ended up having two surgeries a month and half apart at one hospital and ended up in ICU. They called in other doctors, nurses and were giving her the wrong medicines which caused her to have a stroke. She ended up having Cdep, a staff infection, phneomonia and cellulitis. She couldn't even walk. They ignored her in ICU most of the time and wouldn't feed her. Her adult children helped her all of the time and questioned the doctors and nurses about what was going on, but, still couldn't get a straight answer. We found out that her appendix had burst which caused her to have emergency surgery and wasn't called until it surgery was over with. My mother, 84, was worse off at that hospital before she went in. They wouldn't even bathe her or answer her button calls for the nurse. She was then transferred to a Nursing home in Illinois near her home for rehabilitation where she was abused and mistreated her.
She was there not even a week and then was transported by chopper to another hospital in Springfield in the ICU dept. We found out that her kidneys were shutting down because of lack of water intake and that the cellutitis in her arm was so badly bruised and infected, her arm was swollen three times the size it should have been. She still had a staff infection, Cdep and also pancreatitis. She was drugged up from the nursing home with other medication which she shouldn't have been on and that we weren't informed about either. Thirteen medications, I couldn't believe it. After being in ICU for two weeks, she started feeling better and the doctors there said she was going to be fine and needed to go for therapy and help her walk again. But, my older brother and two sisters took her back to the same nursing home as before and they mistreated her again. My younger brother and I went to see her and saw what was happening to my mother. It was terrible! I took picture's of my mothers room. It was trashed, smelled like urine and my mother kept crying and telling me to take her home. I was told that my mom was doing alright, but, I knew better. She wasn't being fed and they weren't giving her water. She layed in her own urine bedsheets and feces on her clothes for two days. It was just horrrible. She couldn't walk, her left foot was turning blue, because they had dropped her twice on the floor instead of using the straps to hold people up; it was three aides lifting her up under her arms as I heard my mother screaming out and crying for help. I couldn't stand the them torturing my mother anymore. I called and made a complaint with the administrator of the nursing home, threatened the nursing staff and the aides. They were really scared. My mom was released and put into a hospital nearby where they said her foot was so badly bruised, it had turned into ganggreen; plus her kidneys had shutdown again. There was no hope for my mother anymore. It was only a matter of time. April thru June of this year 2009 were the most horrible months for my me, my mother and my family. My mother passed away on June 23, 2009. Now she is with my Dad. I miss her dearly. She didn't deserve to be treated this way at any time. She was a strong person, very talkative and alert, paid her own bills, etc. We had all just finished building her a new porch on Easter weekend. And she went into the hospital just a few days later. Mom never got to enjoy her new porch at all. I love you mom, always where ever you are.

This is Ms. Melly again adding more info that I forgot which is very important. My older brother and sister's decided to take over everything while my mother was in the nursing home. She had made out before her illness occurred, a Wish Book" notarized, but, with no Will. This wish book included all her wishes for burial arrangements, dividing up what she had left in the house to her seven grown children and then sell the house. None of this happened. The oldest three immediately sold everything in the house without the rest of us knowing anything, didn't want us around and told us to stay out of the house. They hired an attorney and took us to court for the oldest brother to become adminstor of moms estate. Myself and three other brother's couldn't afford an attorney, but, we did the best we could to try and make one of my brother's the adminstor. It was a cruel battle in court and their attorney even made accusations against my brother; the judge didn't even give him a chance to speak for more than ten minutes. He awarded my older brother as administor. But, told my older brother and his attorney that they had 60 days to come up with everything that was sold and for how much it was sold for. So far, we are still not allowed in our mother's house, the other three are still not talking to us and they didn't even contact us for moms burial date. This is simply uncalled for and they are treating us like we don't exist. I never would've thought that our own family would turn on family members like this.
I do know that the day before mom died, she told my younger brother's that she didn't like what was going on with her house and that the two older girls were doing her wrong. I guess she knew all along what was happening and was not pleased. Poor mom made a disgusted face about the whole thing. I know now that mom and dad are watching over us and they are not happy at all about how things are being dealt with. Not the way that they wanted them to be. It's so sad as all seven us use to be close and now we're not.

Please consider revising section 9 of this post, and recommend that people discuss these issues with an attorney in their state. You are providing misinformation here. For example, this:

if you have no will when you die and you have no heirs in the eyes of your state’s law (e.g. living children or parents), all of your assets will become the property of the state,

is simply not true, although it's a common misconception and one which I am constantly explaining to my own clients. There are similar problems with your advice re: "out-of-date wills." Please leave the legal advice-giving to the lawyers. Yes, I am one.

Please enter me in this drawing.

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