Think Before You Throw!

Do it for the earth, do it for extra space, and do it for your pocket!

Donating, recycling, and selling are the way to go when downsizing or handling an estate.  Selling will provide cash for your unwanted items, especially if you have a professional help you.  Donating can also provide a tax deduction or help a worthy cause.  Use your imagination when deciding where things could go, other than black trash bags!  Can someone use your items in some form or fashion?  This is the ultimate in recycling.

Remember the following when faced with thinning out your home’s contents or when you may not have enough for an estate sale:

  • Have the neighbors in for free household chemicals, garden/yard tools, etc.
  • Create a donation network by discussing what you have to give.
  • Keep watch for charity drives in your community.
  • Web search for places to sell or donate items.
  • Gazelle.com, techforward.com, and others offer varying compensation for electronics.
  • You can recycle computers at Good Will or Geek Squad.
  • Paper, cardboard, and scrap metal are commodities that are traded.  Find a buyer locally.  Sites like boxcycle.com and usedcardboardboxes.com pay cash for boxes.
  • Scrap metal and other household metals, photo frames, etc. are wanted by artists.  If you take scrap metal to the right place, you can end up with some $$ in your wallet.
  • Charities are in a funding crisis.  Paper, books, games and toys help daycares, senior centers, and after-school programs.  Give them a call; they are happy to give you a wish list.
  • Alzheimer’s facilities are always looking for clean linens, towels, nice dolls, stuffed bears, etc.
  • Many religious organizations/groups set up homes for refugees, domestic abuse victims, disabled adults, etc.  They need many everyday items and toiletries that you no longer need.
  • Old sheets and towels, leashes, and pet bowls are very much needed by local pet shelters.
  • Check with local drama programs (high school, college) for their wish list.  Some will welcome “vintage” clothing and accessories, and even paints and fabrics for prop and set design.
  • Inventory the home before buying materials.  Garbage bags, boxes, and cleaning supplies are normally already in the house.

Remember, one person’s trash is another man’s treasure!

With my prediction of millions of households being liquidated in the next few decades, the very thought of the amount of trash the U.S. will generate is mind-boggling.  Do your part to help others and the environment too!

What other resources do you know about in your area for donating, selling, and recycling?  Feel free to share ideas in the comment section below.

©2016 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

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Published in: on April 11, 2016 at 10:24 am  Comments (2)  
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Sometimes Life’s an Oxymoron

A potential client sat in her parent’s affluent home asking my opinion as to how we should handle the dissolution of the property.  In this case, I recommended a combination of auction and donation because it was not suitable for a good estate sale.  Imagine my shock when she basically refused the very idea of donation.  This was foreign to me.  With so many out there in need, and her being financially blessed, I just couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t want the towels, linens, kitchen items, and clothing donated.  I left the home not knowing what to make of it.  This appeared to be a picture of an uncharitable heart … hold that thought.

On Christmas Eve, our family went to a candlelight service.  Feeling a little blue because mom passed away and everything feeling weird without her, my father, family and I went to the service in hopes it would lift our Christmas spirit. 

A small boy no older than 4 years old was wheeled in front of me.  There, in a wheelchair that looked like something from outer space with every gadget and gismo attached, was this very tiny child with the most angelic face I had ever seen.  He was beautiful with his blonde hair and blue eyes and looked like “Tiny Tim” from A Christmas Carol

He was completely helpless and dependent on his parents.  The child could not move any of his limbs and stared up at the ceiling.  He never made a sound.  Finally, his father unbelted him from his lifeline and picked him up.  The boy was as limp as a ragdoll and showed no sign of life other than his eyes being open. 

At first, dad held him on his lap and he repeatedly kissed the boy on the forehead.  Then mom held him and she would rub his hair playfully, talk to him and kiss his cheeks.  Their faces and eyes held the most amazing peace.  I thought to myself, Now, that’s love.  What an amazing example of love, compassion, and acceptance.

When you witness something as beautiful as that, and then meet other people who seem to have so much but are not willing to share any, it’s a little difficult to understand human nature. 

I did not hear the minister’s message on Christmas Eve, because I was so engrossed in observing this family with their boy.  When I realized I missed the bulk of the service, I just smiled to myself, knowing the message I had received was much more powerful —  and a tender reminder that we have so much to be thankful for. 

© 2012 Julie Hall

From Clutter to Cash, Part 3

Here are the final 4 options for turning the clutter stored in your home and garage into cash.  Please pay special attention to Option #7 before you get rid of anything that might have value. 

6.  Do-It-Yourself – You can try Ebay, Craigslist, local advertising in your newspaper. These are time-consuming and often frustrating if you don’t know the proper way to describe the items, people never show up at the appointed times, money can be wasted in fees (especially Ebay’s, which are not cheap, but at times are worth it). For antiques, collectibles, jewelry, vehicles, larger collections: If you are determined to save the percentage you would ordinarily pay a professional, that’s ok. But keep in mind that professionals have the knowledge and skills to sell these items for the highest amount they can. If you are paying them a commission, they want it to sell for as much as possible too.

7.  BEFORE you sell or give away anything you perceive has value, make sure a professional appraiser takes a look at it. A professional who is paid for an opinion of value and not one that will offer to buy it, which to many is a conflict of interest, but you be the best judge. I have uncovered items worth tens of thousands of dollars that were slated for donation. The fee my client paid me was well worth having me come over, because my experience and skills uncovered what they thought was give-away junk. For example, they were very happy when I discovered in their basement a vase that was sold for $57,500.

8.  To sell or donate? – Should it just be donated, or can I try to sell it first? If it doesn’t sell, I’ll pack it up for donation. Whichever you prefer. If it is banged up and in horrible condition, recycle it or throw it away. If you would feel better giving your items to those less fortunate – there are many who are these days – please find a worthwhile charity or organization. By all means, give, give, give. You will receive a donation receipt you can use for this year’s taxes.

9.  Scrap it – If it’s metal and you don’t want it, or it’s broken or bent, don’t throw it away; scrap it! Find out the location of your local scrap yard and haul it there to get cash. It is not unusual for a truck load to be $100-$150 depending on the type of metals you have. They are looking for insulated copper wire, copper tubing, auto radiators, air conditioning coils, brass, aluminum, bronze, cast iron, stainless steel, and other high temperature alloys.

Please leave a comment at the end of this article and let me know how this has helped you.  What have you cleared out and how did you turn it into cash?

©The Estate Lady, 2011

Important Tips When Dealing with Personal Property from an Estate

When a loved one becomes infirm or passes away, the handling of the estate and contents lands on the lap of the heir(s).  If the heir is prepared, it will go much easier than if they operate in a crisis mode.  All too often, I see children who don’t know anything about the estate and contents.  It’s like they are literally walking into a dark house and starting from scratch with no guidance.

Here are some important tips to consider if you are currently dealing with an estate, or soon to be handling one.

1.  Don’t do ANYTHING until you know what it is and what it’s worth.  Do not give items to neighbors, friends, family, or charity until everything has been looked at by a professional appraiser, or you have been advised what the best method(s) is/are to proceed with dissolution of the estate.  It is well worth the cost to get this information.  It will even assist with equitable distribution, thereby keeping things as neutral as possible between the siblings.

2.  What is it worth?  What someone is willing to pay you for it.  It is not worth the dollar amount you see on the internet – that is only an asking price and usually quite inflated at that.  It is not worth what grandma told you back in the 70’s, and the stories that were told by previous generations can be a bit stretched through the years.   As with anything else in life, the value is contingent upon many factors, one of which is supply and demand. 

Since so many china sets have saturated the market, and will continue to do so, what do you think will happen to the price?  If the younger women want Pottery Barn and IKEA, and not grandma’s china, what will happen to these sets?  The prices will continue to plummet.  Always check with a professional appraiser first.

That’s enough to digest this week, but I have three more important tips for you next week!

© 2010 Julie Hall

Think Before You Throw – How to GO GREEN When Clearing Out an Estate

Do it for the earth and do it for your pocket! 

Donating, recycling, and selling are less expensive than a dumpster and may provide cash for your unwanted items.  They may also provide a tax deduction or help out a worthy cause.  Use your imagination when deciding where things could go, other than black trash bags!  Can someone use your items in some form or fashion?  This is the ultimate in recycling. 

Remember the following when cleaning out estates:

  • Have the neighbors in for free household chemicals, garden/yard tools, etc.
  • Create a donation network by discussing what you have to give.
  • Keep watch for charity drives in your community.  Typically, TV and newspapers will run donation requests during the holiday season.
  • Web search for places to sell or donate items.
  • Gazelle.com, venjuvo.com, techforward.com and myboneyard.com all offer varying amounts of compensation for electronics.
  • Mygreenelectronics.com tells you where to find nearby recycling centers for electronics.
  • Paper, cardboard, and scrap metal are commodities that are traded.  Find a buyer in your local phone book.
  • Scrap metal and other household metals, photo frames, etc. are wanted by artists.  (If you take scrap metal to the right place, you can end up with some $$$ in your wallet.)
  • Charities are in a funding crisis; paper, books, games and toys help daycares, senior centers and after-school programs.  Give them a call; they are happy to give you a wish list.
  • Alzheimer’s facilities are always looking for clean linens, towels, etc.
  • Many religious organizations/groups set up homes for refugees, domestic abuse victims, pregnant women, disabled adults, etc.  They need many everyday items that you need to dispose.
  • Inventory the home before buying materials.  Garbage bags, boxes, and cleaning supplies are normally already in the house.
  • Worn sheets and towels, leashes and pet bowls are very much needed by local pet shelters.
  • Remember, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

With my prediction of millions of households being liquidated in the next few decades, the very thought of the amount of trash the U.S. will generate is mind boggling.  Do your part to help!

© 2010 Julie Hall

“Spring Cleaning” with a Purpose

It’s that time of year when most of us feel obligated to do “spring cleaning”.  At least we attempt to clean windows, wash curtains, clean out the garden shed, and other tasks we dislike doing the rest of the year.  Give your cleaning a purpose this year, and see if it puts an optimistic outlook on this annual routine.

This year, consider what you can give to someone who has a need.  Not just the ugly Christmas gift from Aunt Edna, but look around for those things that you never use.  With continued economic challenges facing families, used items (in good condition) are in such demand.  Charities are stretched to meet extreme needs with very limited resources.

Meanwhile, we have garages full of “stuff” that we don’t really need, but we aren’t willing to part with, or we don’t know where to donate.  Make some calls to churches, local community charities, local shelters.  Did you know that Shriners collect old eyeglasses?  Do you realize that many shelters can use bed sheets and towels, or that local veterinarians often can use towels?  Have you got some books and magazines that the folks at the retirement center would enjoy? 

Here’s a list to help you decide what can be donated:

  • clothing of all kinds: shoes, coats, suits, dresses
  • linens, towels, bed sheets
  • older upholstered or wood furniture: sofas, chairs, bookcases
  • electronics, computers, telephones
  • non-perishable food, if before the expiration date (to shelters or food banks)
  • tools and equipment
  • kitchenware
  • craft supplies
  • durable medical equipment: wheelchairs, walkers, canes
  • prescription eye glasses
  • office equipment and supplies
  • books and magazines
  • toys your children outgrow

Start clearing out those things that you don’t use; now you have a purpose and a plan.  As for washing the windows, sorry, you’re on your own for that task!

© 2010 Julie Hall

Letting go of your possessions is harder than you think

In the last post, I included a list of some reasons why people have a hard time letting go of their stuff.  I want to continue the conversation with a couple of important suggestions from my experience as an appraiser of residential contents and estate liquidator.

First, if you are clearing out many possessions, enlist the assistance of a personal property appraiser.  When in doubt, always have the contents of an estate/home appraised prior to distributing or selling contents.  Most times, the heirs are not surprised to learn that much of what mom and dad amassed doesn’t have much value.  There are some children who feel that “everything is junk” and then discover through an appraisal that some pieces have significant value.  Family stories through the years can also add to the anticipation of great-grandfather’s chair being more valuable because it is so old.  Remember, age is not the only determining factor of true value.

Another important issue that the older generation should realize is that many of the heirs generally won’t take much.  Their children allready have houses that are full from being married 20 years or so, and adding more will only fuel marital strife.  The younger generations appear to want nothing but cash assets.  Even if your children do take items, their children definitely don’t want them now and most likely will feel the same  in the future.  They are not interested in antiques or traditional possessions, when they could take the cash they receive and go to IKEA or Pottery Barn.

Holding onto possessions for the sake of not wanting to let them go will leave a massive burden for the children/heirs.  Gifting now and making plans for the distribution of your possessions while you are still here (and in control of those decisions) is the best plan of action!

© 2010 Julie Hall

The Lady Who Wouldn’t Let Go

Joanne was in her mid-seventies, and her daughter knew mom just couldn’t take care of a house over 4,000 square feet on over an acre of land.  Joanne had to have a home that large to house all of her possessions.  She needed to downsize and move to Assisted Living, but she was giving her daughter a very difficult time about the move.

The daughter made an appointment for me to come over and educate them in the estate sale process.  Her exact words: “Mom’s got 4,000 square feet full of stuff, junk and everything else, and it’s time to sell it all so she can fit into her new place.”  To complicate the matter, the house had already sold!

Throughout the conversation at Joanne’s house, I had a familiar feeling that I had to share.  I addressed the daughter who had asked me to come: “I would be happy to assist you in selling the remainder of this estate, but I have a funny feeling mom will not part with anything.”

Joanne looked over at me and gave me a “cat ate the canary” grin; I knew she was up to something.  The daughter insisted that all of the possessions had to go.  Still, I persisted as gracefully as I knew how.  “I think your mom might have other plans for it, don’t you, Joanne?”  Again, I received the same grin, but she sat silent, as if this was punishing her daughter for trying to make the right decision.

The daughter became increasingly disturbed, and I was caught in the middle.  “Mom, what is going on?”  Still, no reply from her mother.  Once more, I put on my gentle voice and stuck my neck out.  “I’d be willing to guess mom has other plans for her possessions.  Something like storage.”  Mom’s face was simply beaming.  I had hit the nail on the head!

The daughter’s face grew dark like an impending storm, and demanded to know what nonsense mom was up to.  Finally, it came out.  “Julie’s right.  I’ve already reserved four extra large storage units.  I’m not giving it away, or selling it.  It’s mine.  No one can have it but me!”

The lady who wouldn’t let go ended up moving and placing everything in storage, to the tune of over $7,000 per year.

Moral: You can’t take it with you, no matter how hard you try!

© 2009 Julie Hall

Use your stuff to bless others

You don’t need me to tell you that times are economically challenging right now.  This true story of a recent estate I handled may give us all new perspectives on our accumulated stuff.

I had to clean out the home of a lady who passed away.  The family had already been given all the items they wanted from her home.  What to do with the rest of the belongings?

Often a family wants to donate the remainder of the belongings to charity and doesn’t have a preference where to donate.  When that happens, I recommend Blanket America Ministries http://www.blanketamericaministries.org/.

We cleared all the remaining items of furniture and household goods, and the ministry loaded them on their truck.  They ended up taking all this to a woman up in Appalachia who had been burned out of her house.  Everything that was unloaded from the truck was exactly what she needed.  Amazement and thankful looks were everywhere, from this woman to the ministry volunteers.

The obvious suggestion here is that when you pass away, there are places where your possessions can help someone in need.  That’s good, but what about all the possessions that we hold onto now?

We have garages that can’t hold cars, we have linen closets that we have to lean on the door to close, etc.  In a word, we have so much we don’t need!  Who could we bless now?  There are many in need who look for a professional outfit to interview for work, or a house full of furniture due to disaster, or clothes for growing children.  Maybe it’s time to seek out a ministry that helps others, and pass along some of the extra stuff we have accumulated. 

What do you think?

© 2009 Julie Hall