Whether you’ve lost a parent, grandparent, or parent-in-law, you’re likely facing the task of liquidating their estate. It’s no small thing to sort, organize, distribute and dispose of a lifetime’s worth of possessions.
This period of time tends to be stressful and fraught with emotion, which could lead you to make some rash decisions that you could regret later on. For this reason, we have a list of helpful tips that can help you get you through this difficult and demanding time.
Contrary to popular belief, there are easy and financially smart ways to liquidate your loved one’s estate. Use the six tips below to help you liquidate countless items in a timely manner while still making wise decisions for everyone involved.
1. Create a Sorting Strategy
You likely want to take your time sorting through each room and drawer. Unfortunately, you might not have the luxury of basking in the memories associated with each item. If you’re working towards a deadline, you’re going to need a strategy. The strategy that gets things done might be different for every person.
For some, making a yes/no/maybe pile helps, but this can add more time to your sorting process. If time is short, stick with the philosophy that you can only touch something once. No matter where it is in the house, once you’ve touched it, make the final decision.
Create a plan of what to do first-in other words, prioritize each task. Finding important financial documents is a good place to start. Keep an eye out for stock certificates, bank statements, deeds and titles, wills, trusts, and any life insurance policies.
2. Obtain Help
If you are the executor of the estate, you likely feel the need to make decisions about every object. Still, you can make the final call on items without doing everything yourself. Divide the physical labor between trusted family members so you don’t become unnecessarily exhausted.
Putting all of the hauling and heavy lifting on yourself doesn’t help anyone and likely prolongs your efforts.
3. Stay Vigilant
Even when you’re in a hurry, it pays to be meticulous. You never know if a diamond ring might be tucked away in a bureau drawer or how much cash lies in the pockets of that jacket you’re donating.
A thorough yet succinct sorting of items results in timely organization without regrets. Even if it takes hours of digging, you’ll be glad you took the time when you discover irreplaceable heirlooms and sentimental items.
4. Obtain Appraisals
Furniture, artwork, jewelry, and other antiques have the potential to add monetary value to your bottom line. However, you could likely lose money by not obtaining accredited appraisals.
Although a professional estate appraiser has the necessary credentials, he or she can prove to be a pricey option. On the other hand, your local pawn and loan shop can often provide the information you need at little to no cost. In addition, if you choose your local pawn shop, you’ll have a ready-made buyer for a wide variety of items.
5. Play Fair
The last thing you want on your hands when liquidating an estate is a family dispute. Before selling or donating anything, take the time to have direct descendants (such as siblings or children) create wish lists of items they would like to have. Do your best to distribute items evenly based on monetary or emotional value.
Don’t think about throwing out sentimental photos and memorabilia, either. There’s likely someone in the family willing to take these materials.
6. Sell Before You Donate
You can donate smaller items like clothing to charitable organizations, but resist donating larger items before you know their value. Take exercise equipment, computers, jewelry, vehicles, musical instruments, and books to a certified pawn and loan provider for appraisals. If you have items that no one will buy, feel free to donate them.
To make things easier on yourself during the estate liquidation process, call your local pawn and loan provider to see if they help with estate liquidations.