Stretched to the Limit

KNOW THE FEELING?

It’s not difficult to look around and see that many of us are surviving by the skin of our teeth.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day.  Life is much more challenging in many aspects than it used to be, yet somehow we all seem to think it’s easier with our electronic gadgets close in-hand.

With the onset of technology, such as smart homes, smart electronics, iPhones, latest and greatest cars, etc., shouldn’t our lives be easier?  The cars are getting to the point of not even needing a driver (sooner than you think), our appliances do all the work for us, and our social media makes the world a much smaller place.  So why aren’t we more rested?

These things enable us to do more in a given day, but our days are just getting busier, not easier.  Because gadgets break and malfunction, dishes still need to be put in cabinets when clean, and human interaction and input is required at every turn, it’s no wonder we are exhausted, distracted, and as a result, sometimes unproductive.  But, we still beat ourselves up because we aren’t accomplishing enough!  That’s a tiring cycle too!

I have my theories that many of us have become “attached” in some way to the craziness.  My own teenage daughter nearly floored me the other day by simply announcing,

“I wish I grew up in your day, mom, when things were simpler.  Technology has made life much harder.  We don’t even have books anymore; most of my “books” are online.  I don’t like that.”

Imagine that coming from a young adult!  I explained that every generation meets with it’s own challenges and difficulties.  We had trouble back in the day, as well, but not like today where we are all traveling at warp speed, breaking our necks to get things done in a tizzy, and often the quality lacks because we aren’t taking our time to perfect anything.  What a shame!

Maybe I am slowing down a little because I am aging a bit.

Maybe I am slowing down to recharge my batteries.

It has become painfully clear to me, and even in watching some of my family, friends, and clients, that we are all carrying heavy bags, uphill, every day.  It seems most of the actions and decisions we make are often driven by money, because money is important in this life; we have to make money to pay bills, our debts, etc.

But at the end of the day, or when we are in the car driving, do we really have to check our texts, as though the world would stop if we didn’t respond?  Can we just enjoy some music or our own thoughts for a little while?  Unplugging for a little time each day may be a very good thing.

We deserve a rest.

It took me awhile, but I have made a decision that was not easy to come by; I’m not checking the phone past 5:00 pm. unless it is urgent.  I will continue to help as many as I can during the day, while in the office, from the office phone and email, out in the field, etc., which I am always happy to do.  But my spirit ( and I am betting, yours) is in need of a bit of renewal and restoration.

No one will give me a break, but me

I guess I better start with the lady in the mirror.

How about you?

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Published in: on February 27, 2015 at 10:25 am  Comments (3)  
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“I’ll Get to it One Day!”

While the sentiment is a good one, we all know human nature a little too well.  The trouble is, “one day” rarely comes.

  • Out of sight, out of mind.
  • I’ll get to that later.
  • I’ll look into that in the new year.
  • It’s not a priority right now.

It’s fascinating what we professionals notice in estates.  We see a distinct similarity in almost all of the estates we go into, especially if the estate belonged to an elderly loved one from the Depression Era.  The attics are usually full; interesting that 85% of them are full of things that really should have been disposed of 30+ years ago.

By the time we get into these attics to clear them out, the books are rotted and have been gnawed on, anything cardboard has pretty much disintegrated, clothing either smells like mildew or falls apart in our hands, or we find items that have long since been obsolete and no one has any use for them.  If items of value were stored in the attic, which is a big no-no, chances are good they have been damaged and the value greatly diminished.  This is not always the case, but generally what we find.  On very rare occasions, we find treasures hidden up there too, but they have been long forgotten and the family most likely was never told about them.

My assistant has a saying when we are working in the daunting attics, up to our elbows in stuff:

“They were young when they put this stuff up here.  By the time they finally figure out it has to be dealt with, they are elderly and can’t get up here anymore.  That’s how long this stuff has been sitting around and most of it is being discarded.  With all this paper up here, it’s a miracle the house didn’t go up like a match.”

This is accurate on many levels.  Time stops for no one.  We all have the best intentions of cleaning out the shed, garage, closets, cupboards.  But if you continue to procrastinate and something happens where you or your loved one is incapacitated, it truly leaves a burden for the ones you leave behind.  A bigger burden than you realize.

If you have had your sights on a project around the house which includes clearing out some stuff, make sure you know what it is worth before you sell it or give it away.  It is better to clear out the clutter now, so you can feel better and not worry later.  We all could probably come up with numerous excuses.  With spring coming, it’s time to just do it!

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

In Search of Sanity

I have a theory that people subconsciously believe their stuff will anchor them to this world.  They fill their homes with “treasures” as a sign of success; they “made it” in this life, in contrast to their parents who didn’t have much during the Depression.  They amass things out of fear, fear they will have to go without.  They may hold on to stuff out of guilt.  Finally, they may feel they are doing their children a favor by leaving them so many “valuable” things.

At some point, all this stuff becomes a proverbial monkey on someone’s back.  Someone will pull their hair out and cling to sanity trying to understand the estate settlement process.

I find it so interesting that people spend a lifetime collecting stuff, buying stuff, inheriting stuff, fighting over it, displaying it, talking about it … but they rarely make a plan for it.

Collections are one example.  Everybody collects something.  It’s exciting when you find a special piece you’ve been seeking for years.  When the word gets out that you collect cats, suddenly everyone buys you cats.  Metal, porcelain, glass, pottery … it doesn’t matter.  You get tons of cats whether you want them or not.  Next thing you know, you have 200 cats!

Let us not forget that we inherit items along the way, tripling (or more) what we already have.  Soon, our homes are bursting at the seams, our spouses are griping because of all the clutter, and our children let us know in no uncertain terms that they want nothing other than a ride to IKEA and cash, so they can buy what they want.

Every day, I am in multiple estates and I see all of our accumulations.  Some houses are neat and tidy, but the closets are bursting at the seams!  Things are strategically hidden!  Other homes are eclectic and interesting from world travels.  Still others are hoarders, thinking every possession is valuable, and they will not listen to the reasoning of a professional such as myself.

I can say with 100% certainty that we’re facing a major problem in this country as our seniors and boomers age and pass away.  Plain and simple, we just have too much stuff!  More is finding its’ way to the market every day as our elders die, and the boomers are getting the message to simplify their lives and let go of things that bog them down.

This simplification process has brought to the marketplace experts:

  • professional organizers
  • senior move managers
  • stagers
  • estate experts

Look for professionals who are trained, credentialed, belong to professional organizations, and have solid experience.  Start whittling down the years of stuff you no longer use or need.  Open up your space and let light in the house.  All my clients who have taken the downsizing plunge are thrilled they did it, and are now free to enjoy their lives.

As we make our way through our parents’ belongings, we also have our stuff to contend with at the same time.  It’s important to think ahead and have some kind of plan in place, whether giving/gifting in advance, or selling everything and buying only what you really need.  You will love the feeling of lightness.

Learn to let go.  Keep the next generation in mind as you are doing so.  It’s one of the best gifts you can give your family.

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

The Plan

Recently, my teenage daughter and I attended a women’s self-defense course.  It wasn’t your typical “stomp on the foot and run away” class; I knew it would be considerably more hands-on and intense.  My daughter dragged her feet, doing everything possible to delay getting in the car and going to the class with old mom.  She eventually went along, not fully understanding at her young age, the necessity of planning ahead.womenselfdefenseconcordcatrans

Once the class began, she sat completely engaged by the middle-aged police captain, who specialized in transporting the most heinous jailed criminals from state to state.  He was there, he said, to tell us what the criminals have shared with him over 30 years of serving, so we could learn to protect ourselves from them.  Much to my surprise, my daughter “volunteered” to be his victim for the evening.  There she was, upfront where all could see, feeling a little unsure of herself.  When the hands-on, self-defense demonstrations began, it was like watching a Kung Fu movie.  She instinctively knew what to do, and he taught us some very fine points we had never heard of.  Now, we have a plan.

Through the years, I had taught her what I knew about being aware, walking with confidence, and if she senses danger, run like heck.  I would sit her down and have discussions about how we worry about her, and that she must learn ahead of time to be independent.  The world can be a harsh and dark place, I said, but she didn’t want to hear it.  Long story short, the police captain congratulated me for teaching her well and not sheltering her.  Those who are sheltered, who have their heads in the sand and don’t reach out to gain knowledge, won’t make it in a moment of crisis.  The last thing I would ever want to do is send her out there UNPREPARED.

That got me thinking.  My work in the estate industry is really no different from this captain teaching people how to defend themselves.  He is simply teaching them to:

  • PLAN AHEAD, and
  • BE PREPARED.

I do the same thing with my work, experience, knowledge, and foresight about what will happen with families if there is no plan, no will or trust, no advanced directives/living will, no guidance for the children.

If we don’t have any self-defense training, we will be left vulnerable, feeling frightened, and having absolutely no direction if a serious crisis occurs.  We would surely kick ourselves if something did happen and we “could’ve, should’ve, would’ve.”  By then, it’s too late!

The same is true for an estate.  The family is left wide open to bad stuff and messy obstacles, because mom and dad didn’t plan ahead.  It throws everything into crisis mode; pain will only bring angst, regret, pain,and anger.  What a bad way to do things!  Formulate “THE PLAN” for you and your spouse, help your parents get their plan together, and discuss the plan with your own children and beneficiaries.

The problems always start when you are not looking, just like a distracted woman walking along a dark parking lot late at night, texting.  She becomes a target.  The way to NOT become a target in the estate world is to talk, TALK, TALK until all the details are ironed out ahead of time.

People email me from all over the world, saying, “Dad refuses to discuss it” or “Mom is going to do what Dad says.”

SOLUTION: Be sure they understand that if they insist on not making decisions themselves, decisions will be made for them, and those decisions will most likely NOT be decisions they would have made for themselves, placing extraordinary burdens on their children.

NOT discussing these issues is foolhardy.  Not planning ahead is almost unforgivable based on what I see each day.  This is their opportunity to tell you what they want and back it up with legal documents.

Refusing to discuss THE PLAN makes their own future uncertain and unpredictable; they open themselves to all kinds of potential events that could have negative impact on them and their care.

Just like women in self-defense class … with the right plan and preparation, you will not fail when “that” time comes!

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Published in: on February 5, 2015 at 10:25 am  Comments (1)  
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Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen

Living in an ever-changing world, I have concerns about the industry I love so much.  It has so many excellent qualities:

  • helping others during very challenging times,
  • serving the community in a positive way,
  • making a difference in the lives of those who are suffering,
  • offering a skill set not many people have,
  • guiding people towards trusted resolutions, to name a few.

But as with everything else in life, it has changes too.  You’ve got the good in the industry and the not-so-good.  While I have tremendous respect for my colleagues, and they have respect for me, there are many “Estate Experts” that are suddenly popping up in the marketplace.  I need this blog to circulate and help guide people away from these pop-up companies who claim to be experts, and are no such thing!

I am in a unique position, receiving close to 1,000 emails a week regarding the industry, sad stories, and complaints against companies I have never heard of and neither has anyone else.  Having written books and many articles, people gravitate towards me for answers.  I am all too happy to provide answers, as long as they can handle the truth.

Friends, you must be careful out there!  There is good and bad in every aspect of life; that includes all occupations, mine included.

  • Do not be fooled by fancy talk, or a “friend of a friend” who will give you a discount.  Talk is cheap.  A professional turns it all into action and gets it done correctly.
  • Don’t be persuaded to use someone whose commission is lower than a true professional.  You often get what you pay for.
  • Don’t feel compelled to use Aunt Martha’s cousin’s brother who “dabbles” in antiques.  They will not know how to maximize the proceeds, in your best interest.
  • Don’t just call someone out of the yellow pages or internet.  Know what you have, then find a way to sell using the best possible option for your possessions.
  • Don’t take the easy or cheap way because it will BOOMERANG and bite you in the rear.
  • Don’t pile up your great grandmother’s estate jewelry and take it to just any jeweler on the corner.  Why would you sell yourself short, when there are professionals who know what they are doing and will compare, communicate, negotiate, and sell it for the highest $$.
  • Don’t give away or throw away anything until a REAL professional walks through your door and advises you on your possessions.  Knowledge is power.  Know the facts.
  • Beware of “Cash Paid” advertisements.  Know who you are dealing with, or you may get low-ball offers.
  • Beware of searching on the internet, unless you know exactly the right way to search.  Know what an item actually sells for, not asking prices.
  • Before any property leaves your home/estate, RESEARCH and make sure you have done your due diligence in finding a reputable company to help you and guide you.
  • Ask for references, credentials, memberships, etc.  Then, CHECK them.
  • Beware of negative online complaints.  Yes, some are justified, but others are not.  Sometimes an upset client can post a negative comment because an item didn’t sell for as much as they expected.  That isn’t fair to mar a liquidator’s reputation.
  • Finally, don’t ignore your instinct.  It’s a powerful tool that tells you when something is good or amiss.

These tips are among the best advice I could ever offer.  They come with decades of experience and a heavy heart for those who have been taken advantage of.

Remember that the majority of estate liquidators are very good at what they do, have a deep passion for the industry, and help clients move forward with their lives.

It only takes one bad apple to soil the bunch.  If you are careful, you’ll choose the best fit for you!

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

 

How to Select the Best Heirloom

This may be hard for some to believe, but when a loved one dies, the things I see are deplorable.  Children, siblings, extended family, friends, and neighbors descend on the estate like flies.  Seriously?  A life just ended, and this is what people think about .. the stuff and the money.

In my career, I have truly seen the unthinkable; people hire me to uncover the most valuable items so they can choose those items before their siblings arrive (as I later found out).  Children sneaking in the estate before the funeral, and even while the loved one was dying, to “help themselves.”  I have seen neighbors or long-term friends approach the estate as if they were entitled, which makes me ill.  I have seen families offer the caregiver a memento; then the caregiver uses their personal key to empty the house, literally, over the weekend, knowing the children are not there.

When did people get so calloused and mean-spirited?  It is very hard to understand people’s actions.  Everyone always seems to get greedy, hard feelings and resentment follow, and in the long run, no one is happy.

Here are a few helpful hints from The Estate Lady® to guide you in selecting an heirloom.

Selecting an heirloom(s) from an estate is a multi-fold process in your mind and in reality.  First, think minimalist.  Do not take just for the sake of taking.  Remember that anything you take ultimately becomes a challenge for your children in the future.  In making these decisions:

  • Keep in mind that selections are ruled by emotions/sentimentality/nostalgic ties to the person who just passed.  Examples would be photographs, their eyeglasses, a favorite perfume … small mementos that have little value to anyone but you.  NOTE: This does not mean pack up the entire estate and keep all small items.  It means be prudent and hold on to smaller items that you truly cherish.
  • At some point, the emotional side must give way to logical consideration and reality.  Separate the emotional from the realistic and see practical side.
    • Will I really use it or can my sibling use it more?
    • Will I have space for it?
    • Is the cost to transport/ship too high to get it to my home?  Don’t expect the estate to pay for shipping; arrange that on your own.
    • Do I have to put it into storage?  Think twice; storage gets very expensive.
  • Consider the condition of the item.  Older items can have serious problems: insect eggs in antique rugs, items in poor condition now unusable, mold on items, odors from smoking/animals/mildew.  You don’t want to bring these into your home, especially if you have allergies.

When our mom died, and my brother and I went back to their home to sort through things, I reached for this little gold tone frog with green eyes and solid perfume inside.WP_003000  I bought it for mom when I was 10 years old.  I laughed every time I saw it, wondering why she kept it.  One day I asked her.  “Mom, why do you keep this silly little frog?  I paid $1 for it when I was little.”  She simply replied, “It always made me smile; I remember when you gave it to me.”  Don’t you know I had to have that little frog?

This is how you make solid, knowledgeable selections from the estate.  Not based on worth, because money means nothing.  Chances are pretty good your children won’t want that 9 ft. tall Victorian secretary.

The value is in the heart and it will guide you!  Turn the other cheek, be polite to each other, and put the memory of the person you lost before yourself to honor them.  Friends and neighbors should step back, allow the family time to grieve, sort and make their selections first.  Friends should not request anything unless the children offer it to them.  If you can’t have a particular item, at least take a photograph and remember it that way.

It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get the item you want.

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Ex·cel·lence

 The quality of being outstanding or extremely good.

An outstanding feature or quality.

It’s a new year and an exciting time as we get to “start over.”  Each year, people seem to have numerous new year’s resolutions; some want to lose weight, quit smoking, make their business successful, exercise regularly, etc.  This year, my goal is to concentrate on excellence; to be the best I can be, personally and professionally, in all aspects of my life, whether sitting with a client or tending to my garden.

Excellence is not a skill.  It’s an attitude.  Since there seems to be less and less of it in the world, let this blog serve as the reminder that we can, and should, strive for excellence in our lives.  It just takes effort.

I’ve often told my teenage daughter that you receive in life what you give; you reap what you sow.  If you give a lot, it usually comes back to you multi-fold in ways you would never expect.  If you just “take” all the time, don’t expect life to continually shower you with gifts; it doesn’t seem to work that way.

Have you noticed that we all seem to make our lives more complicated than they have to be?  Or we just keep piling on the tasks because we are professional multi-taskers now, like a “Jack of all trades, but a master of none”?

Maybe part of our personal excellence can be to simplify our lives to the point where they are manageable, easier, and ultimately more enjoyable.

As with most things in our lives, I believe excellence is something you create through positive intention.  It is a mind-set of not wanting to settle for anything less than the best for yourself and from yourself.  I found this definition of excellence online.

The desire to excel is exclusive of the fact whether someone appreciates it or not.  Excellence is a drive from inside, not outside.  Excellence is not for someone else to notice but for your own satisfaction and efficiency.

Having spent much of my career talking with the elderly, I’ve come to understand that they have much to say and most of it is very wise, including regrets they have and wish they could undo.  They will be the first to admit that for them it is almost too late, but it isn’t for most of us.

Propelling yourself towards excellence requires courage, because it may mean facing things you don’t want to face.  Or sticking your neck out when others don’t.

  • Facing pain (old or new),
  • healing past wounds,
  • fixing broken relationships,
  • spending more time with our kids or elderly parents,
  • finding a hobby we really enjoy,
  • doing more for ourselves that calms our minds and offers renewal to all aspects of who we are.

It means pushing yourself to be the best at whatever it is you do, and doing it honestly, ethically, and for all the right reasons.

Time waits for none of us.  Join me in making this year …  EXCELLENT!!

 

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Published in: on January 15, 2015 at 8:45 am  Comments (5)  
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An Example of the Changed Antique Market

People always ask why their mother’s or grandmother’s handmade antique Persian rug is selling for so little.  After all, it is a work of art, a beautiful creation out of the imagination of an artist who took many months, if not years, to create with talented, nimble hands.  It’s old too, so it must have value.  How can this rug which mom paid $9,000 for in the 1980s be selling for $500 today?

WP_003180Behold the image in the photo; an image you see every day from Target to Walmart, from Costco to Bed Bath and Beyond. (Strolling through Costco was the inspiration and the photo for this blog.)

Machine-made, hand-tufted copies of real, antique Persian rugs.  Rugs recreated with pretty colors and patterns most likely taken from the old beauties.  Some are a wool blend, but most are inexpensive acrylic.  The answer is right there for all to see, if we are paying attention.  Cheap, machine-made copies that look good enough for the majority of people and their style, color theme, and most importantly, their budget.

Why would someone pay $9,000 when they can have a pretty look-alike for under $200?  They don’t have to worry about spilling on the look-alike rug, or the effects of small children and puppy accidents.  This rug can be replaced cheaply in a year or two when people have grown tired of the colors and want a change, or when it wears out.

The reasons are numerous:

  • These rugs are inexpensive, but look good with our furniture,
  • We don’t worry about them as if they were an antique,
  • Very few people care if it is real or not, wool or acrylic, hand-knotted or machine-made.

This is how we’ve changed and manufacturing has figured us out and is meeting our demand.  We don’t necessarily need top quality with a price tag to match.  We just want something attractive, so they make them by the millions.

On the flip-side, there will always be those, myself included, who are enamored with a genuine Persian, or a genuine antique.  Even the feel of a genuine Persian rug lends credence to the love that went into making it, as well as the spirit of the artisan is locked into the weaving.  But, I don’t spend a lot of money on these either.  I recently purchased two antique Persian rugs for $200 each at an auction and they are stunning.  An interesting observation: the new machine-made rug that wasn’t nearly as pretty also sold for about $200.  Go figure.

I have also seen other interesting trends, such as fine antique furniture pieces selling for $100 – $250 and the next item sold was a fairly new, “Made in China” cabinet for $350.  Why?  Because it had the look someone wanted.

One must wonder if we are living in times where quality doesn’t matter as much to the masses.  What they are looking for is simply:

  1. What looks good?
  2. What is in their budget?

This is yet another reason why the antique and collectibles market is soft.  The average person doesn’t think of these things I present here.  It always comes down to supply and demand, and has nothing to do with what someone paid for an item.

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Published in: on January 8, 2015 at 9:20 am  Comments (3)  
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Estate Sale vs. Yard Sale

One man’s trash is indeed another man’s treasure.  What you may consider wonderful and unique, another may disagree with, but that’s the beauty in all sales.  Through the years, we have learned that many clients and prospective clients feel an estate sale and a yard sale are pretty much the same thing.  This is not the case; please read on.

Estate sales are a powerful way to empty a home, but they require knowledge, skill, and training to do so.  Estate sale professionals always look for a wide variety of estate items when deciding to accept and conduct an estate sale.  Since the public is invited into the physical estate for the actual sale, it is necessary to have this good variety of items to act as a magnet to attract buyers, who are interested in just about anything.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be the entire contents of the home, but liquidators are looking for as much as possible to sell.

Yard sales are an entirely different venue to sell items, one that is far less complicated.  It is much smaller and contained, and its purpose is often just thinning out unwanted items.

Here is a definition of both sales:

An estate sale is a sale to dispose of a substantial portion of the items owned by a person who is recently deceased, or who must dispose of his or her personal property to facilitate a move.  Downsizing and divorce are also reasons why an estate sale might be needed.  Estate sales require skill and knowledge of a professional to sell the bulk of a household.

A yard sale/garage sale is an informal, irregularly scheduled event for the sale of used goods by private individuals at their home.  Sellers are not required to obtain business licenses.  Yard sales are held on the seller’s own premises to quickly get rid of used household or personal items (furniture, tools, clothing, etc.) at bargain basement prices.

An estate sale professional does not usually conduct yard sales.

There are many differences between these two sales.

An estate sale is professionally run, for a percentage of the proceeds, and the majority of items are not usually low in value.

A professional estate liquidator is often needed, due to the overwhelming scope of work required to handle the process in the best possible manner with the best possible results.  It is not unusual for this process to become completely overwhelming for those left behind, and the liquidator can often lift a huge burden from the family.

Remember too, that the professional estate liquidator has knowledge and experience with pricing personal property, knows how to research, has trusted resources, and is proficient at attracting the right estate sale buyers, based on what the estate offers.

Sometimes, families attempt to do things on their own by selling or giving away items, leaving only yard sale material.  By then, it is too late for the estate liquidator to offer a successful sale or maximize the proceeds because everything good is gone.

Reasons for an Estate Sale

While the most common reason for an estate sale is death, moving into another residence such as an assisted living facility, downsizing and/or divorce are other personal reasons someone will choose to have an estate sale.

  • In most cases, the children/heirs take what they want, but either don’t want the majority of the home’s contents or lack the space for it.
  • Sometimes a loved one’s will has specifications that all of the personal property be sold and the proceeds be divided equitably among the heirs.
  • To pay debts the estate has incurred, creditors will need to be paid during the settlement process.

Reasons for a Yard Sale

A yard sale thins out the home of unwanted or no-longer-used items.  The children have grown up and it’s time to purge the home in preparation for downsizing.  Toys, clothing, sports equipment, holiday items, etc. can be sold quickly and the remainder is easily donated.

Here is a comparative chart to view the estate sale vs. the yard sale, side by side.

Comparative Chart – Yard Sales vs. Estate Sales

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Published in: on December 31, 2014 at 8:07 am  Comments (1)  
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Lesson in Humility

He never gave me his name but he left many, many slurred voice mail messages on my personal cell phone.  He sounded weary and my initial gut reaction was that something wasn’t right.  I called back to politely tell him that I am not “Chas” and that he had the wrong number, but the calls persisted.  I called back again to remind him gently that I am not “Chas.”  All I understood was that he didn’t know how to delete my number and could I help him.  Unable to do so, I maintained a kind voice and stretched the patience for this bizarre situation.

One day, I called back again, but his son answered the phone long enough to tell me his father was crazy and to ignore his calls.  The son sounded like a jerk.  My heart sank a little more for this unfortunate father.

The calls persevered.  Normally in a situation like that, my temper would probably get the best of me eventually.  Again, my heart told me something wasn’t right; perhaps it was dementia or another neurological challenge.  He called multiple times a day and, when I answered it, I would just tell this man that I wasn’t who he was looking for.  It was beginning to feel like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day where Bill Murray kept repeating the same day over and over again.

One day, I turned off my phone when I was out with my family.  Later that night, I checked my messages.  What I heard released a few tears and a humble heart for all that I am and all that I have.  Though the words were slurred, this is what I could understand:

Hello, Lady.  I know I call you all the time but don’t mean to.  I have a problem.  I have many, many problems and I just don’t know what to do.  I am trying to find Chas but all I get is you, and I keep bugging you because I don’t know how to delete you from this phone.  I can’t remember things.  I’ve been diagnosed with (couldn’t make out what he said) and at least my legs work … sometimes they work and I am just so grateful for that.  Yes I am.  Thank the Lord for that.  I’m a vet.  I’m a good guy.  You’re such a nice lady and I feel bad that I keep calling but you’ve been so nice to me.  A lot of people wouldn’t be so nice.  Thank you too.  I’ll try not to call anymore.  Good bye.

In a rush of thoughts, I saw a man on medications, hurt, lonely, and with a son who’s a jerk.  But the thought that overpowered the rest was as simple as a thought could be … I tried to be kind and very grateful that I didn’t sling any of my bad day onto him like most people would.  We’re all guilty of it from time to time.  I was so grateful that he thought the lady’s voice on the other end of the phone was kind.

Such a simple thing to do, and yet he was thankful for it, like I had somehow offered him a present.  You never know what’s really happening on the other side of the phone line, the other side of the door, the other side of the counter.  That must be where the Native American proverb comes from …

Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.

From that perspective, my shoes (and good, strong legs) are looking pretty good right now.

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Published in: on December 18, 2014 at 9:55 am  Comments (5)  
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