Dangers of Choosing a Company Based on Their Low Commission

Everyone loves to save money, but cutting corners on some services is just not advisable.  One such service is when you hire a professional estate liquidator due to the relocation of a parent, downsizing, or the loss of a loved one.

The emphasis here is on the word professional.    The estate sale professional is one who has dedicated much time, care, concern, diligence, devotion, education, research, plus so much more to attain the skills required to conduct a successful estate sale for their clients.  This professional works countless hours and endures many sleepless nights for their clients, constantly learning and navigating an ever-changing industry and dealing with an increasingly difficult public of buyers.

Conducting an estate sale is not just about organizing and displaying, nor as easy as it appears.  Genuine professionals do it well and make it look easy, even though it is really very hard.  They truly earn their commission because of all they know how to do, including how to maximize sale proceeds.

Saving those few dollars selecting the wrong company could end up costing you!

Consumers Beware

This industry is inundated with pop-up or fly-by-night companies that appear out of nowhere.  While there are exceptions to every rule, we see the following often:

  • Many of them have little to no industry training, skills, or understanding of the scope of the work that lies ahead of them.
  • They often know little about today’s market and what items will sell for.
  • They often sell at very low prices and then depart.
  • Some don’t even price items or research the value of higher-end pieces.
  • Sometimes they leave a mess behind for the client to pick up and handle.
  • The sale proceeds are often quite low, because they didn’t make the effort to make the sale as successful as possible.
  • They may not pay the client in a pre-determined time frame or offer an accounting of what was sold.
  • To get the contract signed, they undercut with a low commission, claiming they will do the same things as their professional competitors, but will they?

PLEASE do not hire a company based on commission alone.  Find out what the commission includes, research the company, and make your decision based on sound information and facts.

If the commission is very low, one must ask how they can afford the proper resources: enough staff to organize/display/watch the crowd effectively, security to minimize theft, advertising, appropriate prices, proper signage, social media, and more.

Lower commission can also bring lower effort.  Unless it is a very simple estate sale, what normally suffers is quality:

  • Quality of care
  • Quality of service
  • Quality in research
  • Quality in diligent preparation

These qualities are attributes of a professional, not a bargain-basement business.

KNOW WHO YOU ARE HIRING!  The time it takes to find those true professionals is time well spent.

©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.

 

Nostalgia is Not Hereditary

Why on earth do we hold on to so much stuff that we never use or even want?  That is the million dollar question!  As time goes on, I see more and more people holding on to items from estates, that they don’t really need, and truth be told, don’t really want either.

It is natural to have emotional attachments to objects in grandmother’s home, our own parents’ home, or to anyone dear to us who has passed away.  These emotions can be deeply anchored to memories of cherished people, places, and special times; it becomes a priority to preserve these memories after they go.

Sometimes, we can go overboard and start keeping things for ourselves, our kids and grandchildren, who may not be interested in them at all.

If you only take one thing away from today’s blog, let it be this:

Emotional attachment does not guarantee a transference of emotion from one generation to the next generation.  The relationship between a grandmother and grandchild is different than that of a mother and child, and so on.  Each subsequent generation will most likely not feel the same emotional tug that you might.  It is important to realize this and to accept it.

When you do not accept this and you continue to hold onto things that take up a great deal of space, and don’t mean much to the children or heirs, you become a storage facility for your family.  In addition, a new and unpleasant situation will arise where the next generation (the one that doesn’t desire these items to begin with) must now bear the burden of dealing with the stuff after we leave this earth.

I can virtually guarantee they will not care for these items the way you do, and often are upset and resentful when having to sell or discard them.  When this happens, hasty decisions are made to “just get rid of it.”

Choose only your favorite things and let the rest go.

Future generations will be most appreciative.

©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.

“Help, I’m Lost!”

You have come to the inevitable crossroads of making difficult decisions about assisted living or long-term care for your loved one, and the emotional pressure and exhaustion are enormous.  The pressure rests on you to find the best resources to help and carry out a smooth transition.  You are also tending to a myriad of daily needs, like phone calls, medicine, doctor’s appointments, dealing with family members, and much more.  No wonder you have a tendency to lose yourself, or at least, feel lost.  You may even feel at the brink of snapping emotionally.

Even if your loved one refuses to go along with the best possible choices you make, you have to make the best choice for them and then live with that choice.  Often, guilt accompanies your decisions, no matter how much effort and love you put in to the process.  Then, family members will have differing opinions, which further adds to the stress, confusion, and frustration.

If your loved one has died, leaving you to handle their estate, you enter what many of my clients call “Prozac time.”  Though they say that with a bit of humor, their body language confirms the truth they feel.  They walk into the family home for the first time and their brain betrays them with a whirlwind of thoughts.

  • Where do I begin?  There’s so much stuff!
  • What was she thinking by keeping all this stuff?
  • What do we do with it all?
  • Is there anything of real value here?
  • Will we argue over it all?
  • Should we sell, donate, keep?
  • What if I just move it to storage and deal with it later?

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are answers to all these questions and solutions for you by hiring the right professionals in the estate industry.  Make sure all the professionals you think about hiring have appropriate experience, credentials, and training to give the best possible assistance to your family.  These professionals are valuable resources who can relieve so much concern and solve so many problems.

Exercise caution if you find someone who “dabbles” in estate sales or any other occupation.  They may appear “more cost-effective” but in the end, you will pay a heavy price.

Dabbling is dangerous!  You need a PRO!

Get the best professionals and the process will flow smoothly.  You may be tempted to “do it yourself” but these experts can solve more issues effectively because they have the resources and experience that you don’t have.  Be sure to ask questions, and seek out the few professionals that you trust.  The really good ones are worth their weight in gold!

Take comfort in the fact that this is a season of your life which will get better.  Keep your sights on the positive end result.  Be sure to ask for help from close friends, trusted siblings, and counselors to keep you emotionally on track and healthy.  Don’t forget to take care of yourself too.

To locate an estate sales professional in your area, go to www.ASELonline.com and click on the top tab “For Consumers.”  You’ll find a searchable database of professionals, and many other resources to help 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.

Estate Items: What’s Hot and What’s Not?

As we head into the new year, we also head into continued uncertainty with our economy, among other challenges.  The past few years have left some battle scars on the personal property industry, and the economy is still in a weakened state.  We are witnessing the market become flooded with traditional furnishings.  One has to wonder:

  1. When will the market return?
  2. What is currently selling well, if traditional furnishings are selling low?

How I wish I had that crystal ball!  Since we don’t, we can only read the trends based on our experience.

This list is not all-inclusive, but just the highlights of the market.  Items on the “NOT selling well” list are still selling but only if prices have been significantly lowered by the seller/liquidator.

Just this week, we saw a fantastic antique English, curly maple chest of drawers sell for $150 at an auction.  A few years ago, that piece would have brought $1,000.

Please don’t blame the seller; this isn’t the seller’s fault.

The market is simply not bearing healthy prices on many items at this time.

This is the new normal.

What’s currently HOT and selling well?

  • Mid century furniture, some Danish modern, designer furniture from this era
  • Military items: Civil War to present day
  • Genuine and costume jewelry
  • Sterling silver/gold/platinum
  • Vintage toys
  • Record albums: classic rock, jazz, blues.  Not opera or classical yet.
  • Vintage electronics and stereos
  • Utilitarian items: housewares, cookware, kitchen ware, tools, camping, etc.
  • Used cars/boats
  • Vintage garden and patio items
  • Guns
  • Yard items/ornamental/garden tools

What’s NOT selling well?

  • Traditional “brown” furniture
  • Glassware: clear etched, cut crystal, pressed glass, etc.
  • China sets and painted porcelains
  • Victorian furniture, other dark heavy antique pieces
  • Holiday items/collections
  • Rugs: Persian, Oriental
  • Collector plates and figurines (Franklin Mint, Bradford Exchange, etc.)
  • Upholstered furniture
  • Common antiques
  • Dining room furniture, hutches
  • Print media: numbered prints, mass-produced art items

If there’s one thing for certain, it’s that things are always changing.  For now and for quite some time to come, these are the trends and predictions.  One day, this will change too; we just don’t know when.

©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.

Throwing Money Away Literally

WHY A SYSTEMATIC APPROACH IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY WHEN CLEANING OUT AN ESTATE

Recently, I was asked to handle the daunting task of emptying a hoarder’s home. The home owner had passed away in the home. The sole heir, who lived several states away, required assistance to identify items of value, discard tons of garbage, sort through the piles, etc. The heir’s goal was to empty the home so the real estate could be sold. For anyone walking into this home, myself included, it would be considered an overwhelming situation, let alone for an heir who has no knowledge of how to proceed.

I agreed to do the job. We went in and systematically approached the entire estate, attacking the most dubious areas first. Handling a hoarder’s estate is, quite literally, an archeological dig. We unearth one layer at a time. We work through the system, we follow the proper process that we have perfected, we sort as we go, and we report back to the heir/executor what we find. In short, if there is something of value hidden, we will find it for the family. Sadly, much of what we find that used to have value no longer has value, because it has been destroyed from being buried for decades, exposed to critters, relentless fungi, deterioration, etc.

I don’t mind sharing with you that this was a grueling job, even for this professional with decades of experience. Progress was slow since the home was in very bad shape with rodent nests and “evidence” of them, and the home smelled. Naturally we took all health precautions, but it is difficult especially early in the process because there is no room to sort, organize, etc. Room by room, we used the same method; over the course of 9 days we found some pretty spectacular things.

Our systematic approach might seem overkill to some, but had we not taken our time to go through a logical sequence and particular order, we never would have found over $40k in cash (in places that another clean out company would have just discarded without looking, or donated without taking the time to search every nook and cranny). We found an extensive coin collection, cash, some jewelry, sterling silver hidden in a cubbyhole no one knew was even there. We found guns and what I call “uniques & oddities” that were just fascinating to uncover.

Imagine us heading into a walk-in attic that was up to our elbows and higher in places! Clearly, the elderly client had not thrown anything away for generations. While the digging part and the smelly part and finding the dead critters part were less than thrilling, someone had to do this for the client; it might as well have been my company.

While I was totally focused working in this estate, I had several very important thoughts I would like to share with you.

1. How fortunate for the client, and the attorney representing this client, that they chose a professional who was honest. That cash would have and could have easily disappeared if they chose an estate person who was unethical and unprofessional. When I took that money to the law office, they knew they were dealing with a person of integrity. One has to earn their impeccable reputation.
2. Thankfully, we do have a systematic approach in place to uncover everything. What if we had mistakenly thrown away the cash? What if we never found it and it ended up in the dumpsters?
3. You get what you pay for. If you hire a clean out company that just throws things away, you could be making a grave mistake.
4. For Do-It-Yourselfers: There’s nothing wrong with this approach. However, you can become emotional, creeped out, and overwhelmed, and decide to start throwing items away quickly to get finished.  I spend a lot of time pulling things out of the trash that my clients have thrown out, because they don’t know the values.

The moral to the story: It took more than one lifetime to create the mess we “un-created” in a little over a week. Most families could never have finished in so short a time if they did it themselves, and would certainly have made unintentional mistakes which could have been costly. Search for and research any estate company you are thinking about using. They are worth their weight in gold if they have a great reputation!

©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

Know When to Hold ’em BEFORE You’ve Sold ’em

It is not unusual to meet with families sorting through an estate on their own and making serious mistakes.  Through no fault of their own, they are following their logic.  Since they don’t have the benefit of knowing the correct process and sequence of things, knowing the industry, collectibles, antiques, and the overall market, they soon find themselves “guessing” and that is a very bad thing to do.

Families, executors, and attorneys hire estate professionals so we can guide the family in knowing what has value, what doesn’t, what is sellable, what is not, options for selling, resources for selling, what to throw away, and what to keep.  This is what we Estate Consultants do to maximize proceeds and offer peace of mind to our clients, knowing they are making the right decisions.

Let me tell you a story about what just happened.

I love sterling silver rings.  Besides wearing them, they are a good investment as a precious metal.  I had been watching a large lot of rings on eBay and won it at a very fair price.  When the rings arrived, I looked at them and found a huge surprise.  One ring stood out; I knew instantly it was Imperial jade, and one of the largest pieces of Imperial jade I had ever seen.  Even a small slab of this jade is very expensive and sought after.  The setting was platinum and not sterling.  It was, at the very least, a $1,500 ring thrown in with $5 sterling rings.

Someone did not do their homework or did not take the time to do enough homework.

I attempted to contact the seller on eBay, but they never replied.

Moral to the story:

Haste makes waste.  It is worth hiring an expert to avoid hasty, and costly, mistakes.  No one can possibly know everything.  Bringing in professional help is an inexpensive insurance policy that you are making the right decisions for the distribution and dissolution of a loved one’s personal property.

©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

Things We Find Left Behind

Treasure is in the eye of the beholder.  What one person holds dear, another wants nothing to do with.  This is true between elderly parents and their middle-aged children, and even grandchildren.  The Depression Era generation doesn’t let go of much.  They take great pride in their possessions, especially the ladies with their ornate silver plate pieces, painted china, and etched crystal that they cherished in another time and place.

We find a ton of handwritten notes intended for those left behind.  We find them tucked inside vases, taped to the back of china or paintings, taped under sculptures and figurines.  We find loose notes in desk drawers.  Sometimes, we even find the notes laying right where the author left them before being struck with infirmity or death.

These notes are meant to guide the loved ones after their death and they often include a myriad of information: the history behind the item, the name of the person they are leaving it to, and my personal favorite … what they think it is worth.  Many of these notes have yellowed with age and some are barely decipherable.  To complicate the matter, this particular generation has a tendency to change their minds frequently, often creating multiple notes with mixed messages (probably depending on who ticked them off most recently – according to the children who read the notes).  It is also possible they may forget and start all over.

Here is an example of one I just found:

Dated 1977

“In my antique chest, with the items I intend to give to Susan and Ralph.  Top shelf – “Boy and two goats” Royal Copenhagen figurine and female Hummel. – $2,000 value

Second shelf – Royal Doulton Toby mugs and Hummel plates – $1,800 value

Third shelf – Carlsbad, Austria dish and crystal duck and cat – $300 value

To Robert and Sylvia – In the hutch – the smaller Hummel figurines, Venetian glass fish, crystal candle holder and small Royal Doulton figurine. – $1,500 value”

The list is quite extensive and goes on for a long time.  Here’s what we need to know from this story:

  1. These items were never distributed.
  2. They were never distributed because no one wanted them.
  3. They ended up in my hands to sell for the family and they will split the proceeds.

Do notes help?  I think sometimes they do, especially when they offer personal history and IF you want to keep these items.  Notes can also be removed or taken by unscrupulous heirs-to-be, and often we find more than one version of their notes, which claim different people can have the same item.

How do you handle that one?  You write a formal addendum or document to place with your Will or Trust, and make sure there is only one copy, not multiples.  Ask your attorney how to do this.  Better yet, consider giving it away or selling these items, if the children don’t want them, before any of this takes place.

From my experience, many times the intentions of these notes are never carried out.

You can have the best intentions but if they are not carried through, it’s a moot point.

If you want someone to have somethings special of yours, give it to them while you are still able to do so.

Somewhere along the line, we have to break the habit of waiting until someone is “gone” to deal with all of this.  Granted some people prefer it that way, but more and more, we are seeing a trend of people giving away or selling their items before they pass, to make it easier on their loved ones left behind.

Personally, I think the best notes we can leave behind are thoughts of joy and love, and not necessarily who gets what and how much items are worth.  My favorite “possession” from my late mother is a letter she sent me stating how proud she is of me and how I have chosen to serve people, and may God bless me abundantly for doing so.  It is a deeply personal note and one that I will always cherish.  I would gladly let go of the material stuff I inherited from her, for this one note and memories of happy times.  That’s the REAL inheritance!

©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

Concern and Worry can Wear on You

Many of my clients are concerned about the state of our economy.  I am worried too, and I’m betting some of your wheels are turning constantly.  In the midst of uncertainty, it is only natural to feel off-balance and a bit insecure.  It’s hard to make solid decisions when so much is up in the air.

Clients need guidance determining what to keep, sell, or donate at a time when the secondary market is so poor.  How do you go about getting top dollar for an heirloom in an economy like this?  You don’t, unless you have something incredibly extraordinary and high-end that people are willing to dig deep into their pockets to obtain.

Some will decide to hold on to possessions, often going to the trouble and expense of storage; I don’t think that’s a viable option.  They think the longer they hold onto it, the more valuable it will become.  Most of the time, the answer to that is “not necessarily so.”  Storage will eat up and surpass the worth of what you put in there.  If you don’t move it into your home right away, I don’t recommend storage.  That’s a sign you don’t need it.

Others want stuff gone immediately and sold, never to be dealt with again.  They sense the economy will get worse and not improve.  They feel it’s better to get what you can now, then nothing at all when things really get rough — if they get rough.

All of these different ideas, opinions, and theories everywhere you look, yet they all have one common denominator: concern and worry.  It can really wear on you too, if you’re not careful.

Here is another excerpt I found from my late mother’s writings.  It lead me to write this blog, because so many of us are in the same boat.  My mother may have read it somewhere and liked it so much she copied it.  I hope you find it as inspirational as I did.  How did she know I needed to hear these words?  Maybe you need them too.

“When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will either be something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.”

©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

Things That Have No Place Anymore

In every home, in every estate of a deceased loved one, there are items we have to deal with that don’t seem to have a place with us anymore.  Perhaps they are no longer useful, or the sentiment has worn off.  Maybe there are so many items, there’s no way you can take them all!

After the family comes in and takes what they want, and some of the items have been sold or given away, there are always leftovers that can’t find a home.  Old photos and slides no one wants.  Brittle college diplomas and certificates from the early twentieth century.  Ancient textbooks on everything from WWI nursing to social etiquette to typewriter maintenance.  Old tax returns that need to be shredded and magazines and catalogs that weigh a ton.  Old TV parts, metal bits and pieces, broken appliances that are stuck up in the attic.  Prescription meds, record albums, small appliances, old computer printers and fax machines.

Optimally, these items should have been dealt with a long time ago so it doesn’t put the family in a crisis mode when the time comes.  Old appliances and computers can be recycled, as can the endless paper piles we find.  Metal can be scrapped; $100 is better than hauling it to the trash, right?  Prescription medications need to be dissolved in vinegar before flushed to neutralize the meds, or better yet, dissolve them and place them in a container with old coffee grounds or kitty litter.

These items should be disposed of properly, but it makes us feel guilty when we are throwing away things like old photos or slides.  After all, who has time to go through 10,000 slides from the 1950’s?

Let me share a quick story.  I used to be one who didn’t have time to go through all the family slides … until mom died.  I brought the slides home and at night while watching TV, I used a little light-up viewer I bought on Ebay to see which ones we wanted to keep.  I found a gold mine!  Photos of dad on his ship in the Navy, mom and dad’s engagement in 1953, early baby photos of me and my brother never seen before, photos of all the kids and cousins from long ago.  I had these selected slides made into prints and distributed them to family members.  The thank you letters, emails, and phone calls came pouring in.  It was like they each won a small lottery and were most appreciative to have these never-before-seen photos.  In my case, it was worth the effort.

If family does not claim these items, or there is no family left, sadly, these items either need to be discarded, donated, shredded.  And it’s okay to do that — you have permission to do that.  If no one else wants them or needs them, let them go with respect.

©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

Exercise Discernment When Cleaning Out Mom & Dad’s House

Don’t take things just to take them!

Boomers, take heed.  As our parents pass away, the temptation to sock away their belongings is great, but take the time to really think about what you are doing.  Don’t keep it because you think your children or grandchildren might change their minds one day.  Don’t get stuck paying for ludicrous storage bills that far outweigh the value of what you place inside there.  Don’t fall into the trap of being a storage for your kids either.  In the blink of an eye, you will be wanting to downsize; the time has come to hold yourself accountable in all of this.  It’s either you who will do it or your children will do it, so why not do it for them?

TAKE only what is really special to you, because the kids will most likely not change their minds and it will be sold off for pennies on the dollar, when it falls in the hands of your children.

TAKE photographs, because they take up less space but you still have the memory of the item(s).

TAKE into consideration that if your children say “no,” they don’t want these items.  They really mean “no.”

TIPS:  Don’t sell, give away, or donate anything until a professional has examined it.  So many boomers throw away or give away personal possessions worth a small fortune, simply because they don’t know the values.  Tell everyone “no” until the appraiser has reviewed everything.  The cost to pay a personal property appraiser is nothing compared to the value you could find, not to mention the peace of mind it will give you!

KEEP the following:

  • Anything that can provide family history.
  • Family heirlooms if they are wanted and will be cherished.  Don’t force heirlooms on the children if their hearts aren’t in it.
  • All items of perceived monetary value.  Hire that appraiser to find out for sure!
  • Family photographs
  • Rare or unusual items (some antiques fall into this category).  If someone has room for them and wants them, that’s fine.  It’s okay to sell them if no one wants them.
  • Jewelry.  Have items appraised first for fair market value, not replacement value.
  • Items with historic significance.  You may donate if no family wants them.
  • Important documents.  These must be kept together until they are all sorted through by the executor.
  • Collections (gold, coins, guns, stamps, etc.).  Always have them evaluated by a professional.  It is unusual to find appraisers for different specialty collections.
  • Antiques, artwork, paintings, sculpture.  These must be evaluated by a professional.
  • Military items.  These items are sought by collectors but may also be vital to family history.
  • Safes, safety deposit boxes, and their contents.  Have a key or know where keys or passwords are located.
  • Anything you cannot identify.  Have a professional look at it for you.

Don’t take things just to take them.  Select a few sentimental items that are small enough for you to use or display in your home.  Great family or marital strife can develop if you take too much.  Remember, the more you take now, the more your children will have to deal with later.

©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