Hiring an estate sale company can be an easy process, but doing what is best for the estate will require due diligence and a lot of pre-planning. Depending on the circumstances, many estates take months to process starting with hiring a probate attorney, to filing of the probate, filing the death certificate, publishing an article in the local paper, and administering the estate itself which entails many different steps as well. If there is no estate attorney, no will, and no executor, the estate process can drag out for years.

It’s important to get the estate process underway as soon as possible. In some cases, people delay discussing estates with family members as it is an emotional time for everyone. However, not dealing with the estate promptly can be detrimental to the estate and any assets involved. A home that sits for a year can often grow significant mold and mildew, especially in a state with high humidity levels. Cleaning companies as well as estate sale companies will often refuse to clean mold and mildew due to health hazards and clauses in Worker’s Compensation. In a very dry state, things often become dry rotted and brittle.  In addition, a home not lived in is an invitation to rodents and theft. In the worst cases, estate sale companies will refuse to conduct an estate sale at all, creating a total loss for the estate.  

The contents of a home can lose a great deal of value if they are left to sit. The market is frequently changing, and an estate can lose up to half or more of the assets in a changing market. This could be devastating to a family. 

Estates take planning and family involvement and need to be discussed before there is a death in the family or a move to a nursing facility.  It is best to discuss the estate sooner rather than later and have a firm plan in place.  Keep these steps in mind for you and your family’s peace of mind:  

  1. Choose an Executor/Executrix to execute the will.
  2. Choose an Estate Attorney to oversee court proceedings.  This is not required in a non-probated will; however, having one is always an asset. An attorney is required in a guardianship, conservatorship, or a probated will.
  3. If you believe that you have valuable items, tell your family about them. When you have passed, no one will know specifics about items unless you tell them. The provenance of an item can add a great value to it. A great thing to do is write a sentence or two about every valuable item in your home and give the list to someone who will keep it in a safe place.  You can also use an index card and write where you purchased an item or how you came to own something, what you paid for it, and anything else that is pertinent and attach to the inside of a drawer or on the back of the item.  Many estate sale professionals find receipts and cards attached to the back of framed art which can be helpful in identifying the value (make sure that you only attach it to the frame as not to damage the canvas).
  4. Make a list of all of your assets (including property, land, cars, etc.).
  5. Make a list of all of your credit cards and debts.
  6. Think about what items you will want to give away to family members.
  7. Make a list of IRAs, 401(k), bank accounts, life insurance policy info, etc. to give to your Estate Administrator.
  8. Make sure that you have a current Living Will.
  9. Review this information with your Executor or Estate Attorney.

By handling these things now, your wishes will be known, your assets will retain more value, and your family will be prepared.