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 SACRAMENTO, Calif., Dec. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- The holiday season may

be a felicitous time to prepare for the possibility of sudden property loss caused by fire, flood or earthquake.
 Video cameras, often received as gifts or rented to record yuletide festivities, can be valuable tools in preparation for unforeseen calamities.
 California homeowners, renters and business owners who take some very basic precautionary steps "will come out far better financially" in the event of a major loss, according to Carol Thompson, EA, who chairs the Public Disaster Service Committee of the California Society of Enrolled Agents (CSEA).
 Enrolled Agents are individuals licensed by the federal government to advise and assist consumers and businesses in all matters of taxation.
 An inventory of real, personal and business property is critically important for insurance and tax purposes when claiming a disaster loss. It is far easier to do an inventory now, Thompson said, "than to sit down in the ashes and try to remember a lifetime of purchases. It's impossible."
 A video camera is an excellent tool for inventory, according to Thompson, "because you can give a verbal description of each asset as you tape it."
 Many hours of tedious hand-writing of inventories can be eliminated by simply videotaping each room in a home or office. Include furniture, appliances, jewelry, artwork, toys and the contents of closets, cupboards and drawers, right down to the number of skirts and shirts, pots and pans.
 "Absolutely no one can remember all those details after a loss," Thompson explained. "Our memories are just not that good."
 Verbal descriptions of major assets should include date and method of acquisition (purchased, inherited or received as a gift), as well as price or approximate value. Serial numbers are appropriate for items such as televisions and stereos.
 A complete video inventory should include garage, attic, basement, autos, boats, RVs, exterior of the house including landscaping and fencing, plus any improvements or renovations on the inside of the house.
 "If you don't own a video camera," Thompson suggested, "consider borrowing or renting one." Then store the video inventory in a safe deposit box.
 In addition to an inventory, simple record-keeping precautions can save countless hours of reconstructing records destroyed in a fire, flood or earthquake.
 "Get a cardboard file storage box," Thompson said. "Put it someplace you can get to easily in case of a disaster." This box should be one of the first things loaded in the car in an evacuation.
 Extremely important documents should be photocopied, with the copy for the file box and the original in a safe deposit box. Such documents include, but are not limited to, the following list.
 -- House: escrow, title and deed.
 -- Personal: birth certificates, passports, insurance certificates, credit card numbers, will.
 -- Vehicles: certificates of ownership, finance contracts, registrations, driver's licenses.
 -- Finance: a list of checking and savings accounts, CDs, stocks, bonds and other significant investments.
 -- Tax: photocopy the first two pages of state and federal returns for the past five years. Complete returns with appropriate receipts and canceled checks should be kept in a separate file box.
 -- Photos: with one-page negative holders, thousands of negatives will fit in one slim notebook in the file box.
 -- Inventory: a copy of the videotape inventory, plus any written inventory information, should be kept in the file box.
 For businesses, a file box containing the following items should be kept outside the office:
 -- A copy of the Dec. 31 general ledger (or equivalent) for at least five years; copies of business tax records for at least five years; inventory of furniture and equipment (copy depreciation statement and add serial numbers); back-up set of all computer disks; copy of client lists; videotape inventory of office and contents with description of acquisition and price.
 Regional disasters are not the only cause of major losses. "The same preparation," Thompson explained, "works when a single home or office is destroyed by fire."
 -0- 12/13/91
 /CONTACT: California Society of Enrolled Agents, 916-366-6646 or Carol Thompson of CSEA Disaster Committee, 408-373-0553/ CO: California Society of Enrolled Agents ST: California IN: SU:

JL -- SF007 -- 2422 12/13/91 14:09 EST
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Date:Dec 13, 1991

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