Stuff happens, and there are obvious natural disasters that no one can prevent. But getting your house in order to protect what is important to you is something that you can start to fix today.

What would bother me, for example, are the drawers of old photos from my childhood and then of raising a family myself. While I don’t frequently look at these old photos, losing them would feel like a material loss to me. The solution could be to get these photos and negatives scanned and saved in some digital format, and then stored in a safe place.

If your house includes things that are of material value, take a look at insuring these possessions. Most homeowner policies have limitations on home contents, and items of great value will frequently not be covered for full value unless specifically identified and separately named in the policy. Items that may fall into this category include collectibles, art, jewelry and furs.

Take time to inventory your valuable items, and save this inventory in a safe place. Be specific with the details of each item, and back them up with an appraisal or an invoice from the purchase. Some insurance professionals even recommend a photo or video library to show exactly what you are protecting.

Also look at your coverage for a second home, a rented home or one that a dependent child may be renting while away at college. Do not assume that everything is covered through your homeowner’s policy without having a discussion with your insurance agent.

Financial records often reside in the basement. When these documents get destroyed, praying that you never need them simply isn’t strong enough. Like your old photos, either store these offsite in a protected place or scan them into electronic files.

Discard most records older than 7 years. Older documents that should be retained are items such as invoices and cancelled checks for material home improvements, purchase documents for a residence and any original information regarding insurance policies or loan agreements that are still outstanding.

While you cannot control or determine when the next storms will hit, you can call a tree company now to rid yourself of dead trees and limbs that may cause harm in a future weather event. As you may have learned, if you wait to make that call until the wind blows your tree down, you’ll pay a lot more for the same service.

John P. Napolitano CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST is Founder and Chairman of Napier Financial in Braintree, MA.  Visit for more information. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Investment and financial planning advice offered through US Financial Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor.

By John P. Napolitano CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST Founder & Chairman Read More