How to Make a Personal Property Inventory List

And why you need one.


January 18, 2020

9 Personal Property Inventory List1

The Turkish rug your grandmother handed down to you. Your grandfather’s precious coin collection. A home office loaded with smart devices. All these personal possessions are precious to you and many of them probably irreplaceable. How do you protect your personal property from theft or fire? And if you lose your property due to theft or natural disaster and replacement isn’t possible, how can you ensure you receive the full value of stolen or damaged personal property from your insurance company?

It all starts with a personal property inventory list.

What is a property inventory list?

A personal property inventory list is basically a list of all the items you own — in your house, in your garage, in your horse barn, basically anywhere on your property. It can include everything from your BMW Z4 parked in the garage to the diamond engagement ring you inherited from your mother.

Why does it matter?

Making a personal property inventory is a critical step in helping you protect your possessions. If you are ever the victim of a burglary or a natural disaster damages or destroys your home, that personal property inventory list can help both with the recovery of stolen items or in the filing of insurance claims.

What needs to be included in the inventory?

While your personal property inventory checklist could technically include all of your personal property, critical items you should be sure to include on the list are as follows:

  • Personal records like passports, social security cards, bank statements, birth certificates, insurance records, deeds of trust, last wills and testaments, and any other items containing confidential information.

  • High-value items like home electronics or appliances, automobiles, jewelry, firearms, artwork, and antiques.

  • Precious personal items like family heirlooms, photographs, books, or memorabilia.

It’s important to keep in mind as you make your personal property inventory that thieves will target items they can quickly and easily sell for cash at pawn shops or even on personal retail sites like Craigslist. Jewelry and electronics are good examples of this.

How to take inventory

Start your personal property household inventory book with either a pen and paper or an iPhone or tablet for note taking, and start going through the rooms in your home and your outbuildings one-by-one, noting each piece of personal property, its serial number (if it has one), its value, and what it looks like.

In your personal property descriptions, be sure to include distinguishing features that could uniquely identify the item when compared to similar products. Maybe that diamond necklace your husband gave you for your first anniversary has a missing stone, or perhaps your tablet has a scratch on the screen. It’s a good idea to photograph items as well and keep a logbook of receipts that prove your possessions’ worth for insurance personal property inventory forms.

Personal property inventory spreadsheet

If a theft or natural disaster strikes, you’ll be prepared if you’ve taken the time to put together a personal property inventory spreadsheet that includes unique IDs or serial numbers for each item. If the item doesn’t have its own distinguishing serial number the way a television or Bose stereo system might, make up your own, and attach it to the item. This will help you recover your stolen items from pawn shops.

To make the personal property inventory process easier and more searchable should you need to access property details quickly in the event of a burglary or fire, list possession under specific categories: by room or by type of item, for example.

Personal property inventory checklist

Once you’ve drafted that personal property inventory, use the following checklist to make sure you’ve covered all your bases for helping police recover stolen items or filling out that insurance personal property inventory form:

  • Be sure to record critical information for each possession on your personal inventory list, including a full description, serial or other identifying number, purchase price or value, estimated current value, and the item’s location in your home or on your property.

  • Keep copies of your personal property inventory spreadsheet as well as photographs and videos of personal property in a safe place with your insurance policy. A fireproof safe or safety deposit box at your bank are both good places.

  • Make sure your insurance agent has copies of your personal property inventory list and photographs, too.

  • Update your personal property inventory at least once a year or whenever you add new items to your household inventory.

  • Keep receipts for purchases, especially expensive household items, and store them digitally on a memory card, hard disk, USB, or cloud-based storage solution like Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive, and make sure you have multiple copies in multiple places.

Personal property inventory example

Wondering where to begin when designing your personal property inventory worksheet? While there are all kinds of personal property inventory spreadsheet templates online, here’s an example of what one might look like, including critical information to help you, law enforcement, or insurance agents identify and value your property in the event of theft or damage:


Bringing it all together

Keeping a personal property inventory list is a critical part of protecting your family’s or your business’ critical possessions. In the event of theft, fire, or natural disaster, a personal property inventory book will enable you to aid police in recovery or file claims with your insurance agency much more easily. Plus, you’ll have proof of the value of your personal possessions if you’ve saved receipts. This will help you receive real-world value from your homeowner’s or rental insurance policy for the things you’ve lost.

Ensure even more solid protection of your personal property by installing a home security system to deter theft and help law enforcement respond more promptly to a break-in. Already have a home security system? Contact a Brinks Home™ senior security consultant for a full evaluation of your system and advice on any needed upgrades.

Allison Clark is a senior writer for Brinks Home. She enjoys educating others on the benefits of smart home security and using technology to simplify everyday life.

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