Today’s law practice tip was inspired by Norman, Oklahoma master police officer Paul Evans and his observations from an article in The Norman Transcript.
Some may not consider this a law office management tip, but if you’ve ever helped a client who has lost their home to a fire or natural disaster gathering documentation for an insurance claim or has been a victim of theft, then you know better. At a minimum this is a great tip for a client newsletter or law firm web page.
If you lost your home to a fire (or Oklahoma tornado), how complete and organized is your documentation of the personal property contained in your home? If you have carefully documented every purchase and maintained records on these purchases in a fire resistant safe or file cabinet (or secure online storage site), you can stop reading now. For the rest of us, here are a few simple and easy ideas.
One evening soon at home, go through your entire house videoing everything with your smart phone or digital camera. Open every closet and every drawer. Don’t worry about clutter. This is an inventory, not a spread for a home design magazine. After you have completed your “home movie,” store it online in a secure location and/or give copies on flash drives to trusted friends or relatives for safekeeping. If there is a disaster, this video inventory may not be as complete as if you had kept all purchase receipts and other records, but it will serve as a great reminder of things you might have otherwise forgotten and proof you did possess them.
Then every time you make a new substantial purchase, take a moment to take a picture of the item, a picture of the item's serial number and the sales receipt. Then email these to yourself. A web-based email account with massive storage is suggested. Over the years you will accumulate a comprehensive household inventory just by taking a few pictures and sending a few emails. If something is stolen, you have easy-to-access documentation for law enforcement as well.