I decided I needed to document the family pieces I have, so that my nieces will know what all these things are and where they came from. I began doing this with a piece of purpose-built software intended for cataloging collectibles. That worked all right, but after a few years the company vanished and I needed something else. In order to avoid another vanishing solution, I went to a plain word processing document. I kept a lot of the same fields I had used in the previous set-up and made a template that I can just call up and fill in. I printed the pages out and put them in a binder. The nieces spent time looking it over the last time they were here, so I think it's working. They seemed interested.
The fields I use are a name for the item, branch of the family it's from, type of object (china, furniture, jewelry, etc), provenance, description, location in the house, date I acquired it, any associated stories, and a picture.