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How to Create a Personal Asset Inventory

Last Updated: September 07, 2023

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Key Takeaways:

  • A personal asset inventory (PAI) is a record of your physical possessions.
  • Having an inventory can help after emergencies, such as a burglary or fire.
  • The best way to create a personal asset inventory is by using a website or app.

Think about your home and imagine that every item inside vanishes. Could you accurately list everything that is no longer there?
Could you recall the contents of every cupboard, cabinet, drawer, and shelf? What about every piece of technology or the family heirlooms you’ve collected over the years?
You’d probably struggle to list all your possessions. But you’re not the only one. It would be impossible for most if not all people to recall all their belongings.
That’s why having a personal asset inventory (PIA) is essential.

What is a personal asset inventory (PAI)?

A personal asset inventory (PAI) is a record of your physical possessions with monetary or personal value.
The purpose of a personal asset inventory is to provide a comprehensive list of your belongings that can be referenced in various circumstances, such as:

How do I make a personal asset inventory?

Creating a personal asset inventory can be as simple as writing it out by hand. However, altering a handwritten list can be inconvenient as your assets change, whether it be through acquiring or getting rid of items.
Because of this inconvenience, many people use a personal inventory app or website. You can easily edit a digital home inventory and trust that it'll be backed up online.
Some major insurance companies offer their own asset inventory apps or have a recommendation for the app they’d prefer you to use. If they don’t do either, you can use whatever app you choose. Also, it may be worth talking to your insurance agent for valuable tips on what to include in your inventory.

What’s included in a personal asset inventory?

Every person’s or family’s asset inventory will be different. That being said, a personal asset inventory could include belongings like:
  • Antiques
  • Appliances
  • Art
  • Books
  • Clothing
  • Coins and precious metals
  • Decor
  • Electronics
  • Furniture
  • Instruments
  • Jewelry
  • Sentimental objects
  • Tools
  • Vehicles
Besides listing your belongings, you should also add information about your possessions. For example, you can include item descriptions, photographs, purchase dates, receipts, and the estimated values of each item.

What’s not included in a personal asset inventory?

If you’re making a personal asset inventory to plan for potential home insurance claims,you shouldn’t include intangible (i.e., non-physical) assets, such as:
Also, large amounts of cash should usually not be included in your PIA, especially when you’re making it for home insurance reasons.
According to Forbes, a standard home insurance policy limits the amount of cash you can claim. For that reason, if you have large sums of cash exceeding your policy’s limits, store them somewhere secure, such as a safety deposit box, or deposit them into a bank account.
If you’re making a personal asset inventory for estate planning purposes, including intangible assets could be applicable.

Personal asset inventory versus Personal Financial Statement

A Personal Financial Statement lists your total assets and liabilities, detailing your current financial status. It may include some of your physical possessions. A Personal Financial Statement is sometimes used when applying for a loan or lease or providing a guarantee.
In contrast, a personal asset inventory usually only lists your physical belongings. It should never include your liabilities.

When is a personal asset inventory useful?

There are several situations in which a personal asset inventory is very useful, if not vitally important:

1. Home burglary

When faced with a break-in, the experience can be overwhelming and chaotic. Often, people have trouble identifying everything that was stolen.
By having a comprehensive record of your belongings, you can easily identify any missing items you may have overlooked initially. Then, you can accurately report all missing items instead of noticing something is missing days, weeks, or months after the break-in.
Having an inventory can expedite the insurance claims process and increase the chances of recovering the value of the stolen items.
Overall, a personal asset inventory brings clarity, efficiency, and peace of mind in the aftermath of a home burglary, helping you navigate the difficult situation with greater ease and confidence.

2. Catastrophic event

A fire or natural disaster can destroy your home and everything inside. Like a home burglary, you may need help remembering everything you owned.
If this happens, there is no better way to approach your insurance company than with an itemized inventory of your home’s contents.
With a personal asset inventory, you’ll have a premade list of all your destroyed belongings so you can immediately make an accurate insurance claim.
Most personal inventory apps store a copy of your records in the cloud, so you don’t have to rely on a physical copy.

3. Estate planning

While a Last Will and Testament outlines how you want your estate to be distributed after you pass away, it rarely contains an extensive list of your personal items.
Having such a list can be very helpful when estate planning and deciding who you want to inherit your possessions. In addition, an asset inventory could help your executor and loved ones after you pass away because they’d already have a working list of all your physical assets.
Some inventory apps let you export your information as a file which you can print or store on a drive. You could include the printed copy or drive with the rest of your estate planning documents.

4. Moving

If you’re moving to a new home, especially a long-distance move to a different city or state, having a detailed inventory of your possessions can be useful. An asset inventory can help you identify if anything went missing once you’ve unpacked your things.

5. Lending out items

Do your friends or family members regularly borrow books from your collection? Or, do you occasionally lend or rent a power tool to your neighbor? Many home inventory apps let you highlight items you’ve loaned to others so you don’t forget about them or wonder where they are.

Best personal asset inventory apps

Here are a few of the more popular personal asset inventory apps available for iOS and Android mobile devices.


Encircle’s home inventory app is a great choice for making a personal asset inventory. Encircle’s interface is intuitive and easy to use. And best of all, Encircle’s home inventory app is free. Also, it lets you create comprehensive reports.
Encircle offers photo and video documentation, which is a great time saver. You can capture important details for each item by adding extra notes and information. You can access Encircle from your mobile device or desktop anywhere, anytime.
Available: iOS and Android

My Stuff – Home Inventory

My Stuff – Home Inventory lets users organize items by room and location, making creating a comprehensive list of assets easier.
You can also create collections and quickly move items between them, an excellent way to keep track of things like books or tools you have loaned out to family and friends.
My Stuff also has an additional security feature: you can use a password to protect access to the app and its contents.
Available: iOS

Nest Egg

Nest Egg is a powerful home inventory app that’s actually fun to use. It includes features like product information lookup through barcode scanning, automatic warranty tracking for purchases, online price checks, an item lending function, and inventory exporting in CSV or HTML formats.
Nest Egg isn’t free, but there is a free version called Nest Egg Lite. With the free version, you can only add 25 items and access your inventory from one device.
Available: iOS


Sortly is mainly used by small businesses to track inventories. However, the company offers a free version for individuals to enter their personal assets. The free app limits your asset inventory to 100 items, which may be enough for some people or families.
With Sortly, you can easily list your belongings and create a visual inventory. It’s accessible through your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Available: iOS and Android

Start your own personal asset inventory

Whether you own a little or a lot, creating a personal asset inventory is a great way to document your possessions. If you ever lose your belongings during a move, to theft, or to a natural disaster, having an asset inventory is immeasurably valuable.
Your home inventory can help you deal with insurance companies, plan your estate, and keep track of items you lend to others.