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  • Writer's pictureScotia Law

How to Prepare for An Estate Sale

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

If you’ve been designated as an executor of a loved one’s estate, there are a lot of moving parts to coordinate. Often one of the executor’s responsibilities is to dissolve the assets of the home. Many people choose to have an Estate Sale if there are many items to unload in the dissolution of assets. Depending on the size of the estate and the assets involved, an executor may choose to hold the sale themselves or hire a professional estate sale company to assist in the process.

For either option, it is imperative to create a plan of action. Here are a few recommended steps to ensure your estate sale is as successful as possible.

Search the Home

As the executor, it is your responsibility to know what is in the house. Otherwise, you run the risk of priceless family heirlooms going missing. Depending on how long the person had lived in the home, there may be items hidden away in little nooks and crannies. Don’t forget to check crawl spaces, basements and attics!

Secure or Remove Sensitive Items

Items like personal journals or diaries, financial records or personal correspondence should be removed prior to having an estate sale. Protecting the privacy and dignity of the deceased person should be a priority of the executor. If the homeowner had firearms in the home, make sure that they are stored appropriately and unloaded. Call a specialist if needed.

Take photos of the contents of the home

Taking photos of the home can serve a few purposes. Not only will they will be useful when it comes time to advertise the estate sale, but they will also serve to document the contents of the home. If you are working with heirs to the estate, this is a great way to have them go through what they may like to have before the sale.

Consult an appraiser

It is worthwhile for you to know the value of what is in the home before you list it for sale. You can either hire a professional appraiser to come in and determine the value of various items, or you can research each item on your own by consulting various antique shops or searching online. Because the heirs of the estate will likely have first crack at the items within the home, it is useful to know how much each item is worth in case there are specifications that each heir receive items of similar value.

Arrange the Home

Make sure all items of value are visible. While some estate sale attendees may be comfortable routing through drawers and cupboards, others may not. You will increase the proceeds of the sale by making as many items easily available as possible. Make sure there are clear paths around the home to make flow easier and items more accessible. To allow for a smooth sale, consider having the general inventory posted in several places around the home.

Determine a strategy for distribution

Before an estate sale, it is common for the heirs to come claim their items. To ensure that this process goes smoothly, determine a system for distribution before they arrive. If the deceased has stated a specific disbursal strategy, this becomes a much easier undertaking. If they have not, you may need to work with the family to determine the fairest way to distribute the items from the estate. This may or may not be an amicable process. In situations where there is contention amongst the heirs, you may need to create a lottery type of system to see who gets first picks.

Hire a professional

Even if you plan to hold the estate sale yourself, it makes sense to consult a professional to get an extra set of eyes on the inventory. Items that may not seem of high value to you may have hidden monetary worth. Even if items are deemed low in value, these are often the items that estate sale shoppers are looking for. In other words, hold off on the donation pile until after the sale!

If you have questions about an estate plan or creating one for yourself, we are happy to answer any questions you may have!

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