estate sales 24

This is a tough one.  Throughout the years we’ve been contacted by people who have recently lost someone close to them. Sometimes it’s a family member and sometimes a close friend and they’ve been asked to serve as Trustee of their friend’s Estate. They call wanting to know what to do with their loved one’s possessions.


In most cases, it seems that people want to get started (sometimes too soon) to figure out who gets what, what should go, what should stay. It’s almost a frenetic energy that they exude. I guess it makes people feel better when they think they’re getting things done. Staying busy is a kind of coping mechanism.


Here’s the thing…there’s no right or wrong way to do this but moving quickly, especially when you’re grieving, is probably not a good idea. That’s when mistakes happen.  


My advice to those who are chomping at the bit to get things done is to:

o  Get rid of the things that won’t matter to anyone: Medications, supplements, expired food. 

o  Distribute the personal items that family and friends may want…family photos, slides, videos and other memorabilia.

o  Go through the paperwork and get rid of/shred the documents that nobody needs anymore.


The reason I tell a potential client to refrain from throwing things away is because if there is a possibility of an Estate Sale, anything that is thrown away, given away or donated decreases the value and perhaps the option of having an Estate Sale. You’ve heard the expression “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure”. It’s true! People do buy the strangest things and we’re thrilled that they do. Some people will buy a stained piece of tupperware or a half roll of tin foil. Maybe they need those items for painting or a crafting project. Again, we don’t care or question why but we are thrilled that they do buy these items.


Hopefully there is Trust or a Will so that everyone is clear about how to distribute everything according to the decedent’s wishes.  If not, the Estate may go into Probate before the family and/or heirs can do anything legally.  


Once the legalities are clear, the family or Trustee can deal with the rest, you know, the “stuff” that nobody wants or needs. That’s where we come in. We help them figure out if there’s value and if an Estate Sale is a viable option. If not, perhaps sending some of the more valuable items to auction or consignment might be a good alternative. Or, a liquidation might also be a consideration. We help guide them to make the best decisions based on their situation, time-frame, needs and wants.


If an Estate Sale is not possible, we will then donate whatever can be donated. That said, there are items that are no longer accepted by most donation companies so its good to know before you start packing. A partial list of items no longer accepted by donation companies are: mattresses, box springs, armoires, large desks, upholstered “flowery” furniture and anything that is ripped, soiled, stained, broken or missing a piece.  Further, everything must be either in the garage or on the ground level. Yes! Everything! Unfortunately, even then, they may not take it all. Everything is at driver’s discretion! Hopefully they’ll be in a good mood on the day of your pickup.


Finally, we will haul away the trash. Whatever hasn’t been sold and those items that can’t be donated are then taken to the dump.   Toxic waste is disposed of as well.


There are a lot of resources that are needed to get this all done and thankfully, there are companies like OCD that can help coordinate and facilitate all of the above facets of clearing a property including, but not limited to, hazardous waste pick-up, shredding pick-up, donation pick-up, haulers, cleaning companies etc. Further, we do this all within 1-2 days depending on the size and volume of the contents whereas if the family or Trustee has to do this it can, and often does, take weeks if not months. 


We understand that this is a difficult thing to do under difficult circumstances. We’ve been doing this for a very long time and we know how to handle these kinds of jobs with compassion. We also try to manage our clients’ expectations by reminding them that the real value isn’t in the possessions that, at the end of day, nobody wanted but in the sale of the real estate. The sooner we clear the house, the sooner the house can be sold and proceeds can be distributed amongst the heirs.


If you or someone you know is struggling to get things sold or cleared after a loved ones’ passing, please pass along our information. We’d LOVE to be of service.