Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

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Norcalkenny
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Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by Norcalkenny » Fri Jun 27, 2014 11:11 am

Hello,
My father-in-law passed away in February 2014 and he lived in Beavercreek, OH. He lived alone and was a collector of many different things. He loved to collect old coins, firearms (about 40), old classic cars-there are 4 and they are from the 30's and 40's. None of the cars run at this stage. One is a 1939 Ford Coupe. Another is a 1949 Lincoln "Baby." There is a 1929 Model A and another 1949 Ford. He has loads of old coins and just tons of stuff.
Some folks like to have an auction and deal with this this way. My wife and I are in California. My wife has a sister who lives about 45 minutes from where the father lived. The auction team has several employees and they will spend possibly a few days conducting an inventory of all the items. Being that my wife lives in California, she is a little concerned about not being there when the inventory takes place. She has asked for a daily list of what is recorded to be sent to her and there seems to be some reluctance on the part of the auctioneer. The auctioneer will take 20% of all sales.
Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions with a scenario like this?
Many thanks to all.

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pjstack
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by pjstack » Fri Jun 27, 2014 11:25 am

What is she going to do with a "daily list"? Does she know anything about old coins, cars, etc.?

Does your wife feel that she will be cheated out of the value of all the stuff that her father accumulated? She could always fly to OH and see for herself.
pjstack

bloom2708
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by bloom2708 » Fri Jun 27, 2014 11:39 am

I would recommend a visit before and during the inventory. You may want to keep a few items. If the sister can supervise that might be adequate, but it sounds like your wife may want a more hands on approach.

A second trip out for the actual auction would be good as well. Parting ways with a lifetime of accumulated items can be emotional. Plus auctions are quite interesting.

Have there been any good Boglehead threads about collecting? At 43 I'm less and less a fan of collecting much of anything. Situations where someone collects their whole life and leave a huge pile of stuff for family to sort out have to be very common. Collecting without the selling part is an interesting topic. I guess nobody plans their exit, so planning the right time to un-collect is often hard.
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livesoft
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by livesoft » Fri Jun 27, 2014 11:43 am

Here is today's example of uncollecting:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/ ... YB20140626 Phil Collins donates his Alamo collection
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prudent
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by prudent » Fri Jun 27, 2014 11:54 am

If you need any help understanding the coins, PM me.

There are many ways for auctioneers to play games and influence the results (and not in your favor) but the only way I know to defend against that is to know what the stuff is worth - and that might not be possible.

If you're going to get an inventory when they are finished (and I can't imagine the auctioneer will be reluctant to do that), what's the benefit of getting one at the end of each day?

If you don't trust the auctioneer to provide an honest inventory, then either someone needs to supervise the inventory process, or you find an auctioneer that you do trust.

Boglegrappler
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by Boglegrappler » Fri Jun 27, 2014 11:57 am

It sounds like there is some decent value in these collections, and possible something that is fairly rare and could have better-than-decent value.

I'd want to have my own set of eyes and photographs of what exists. I think you could probably come up with a decent estimate for the value of the cars on your own using internet sources. Same with the coins and firearms. Some of the coins or guns could be worth quite a bit.

I hate to impugn anyone gratuitously, but I believe that auctioneers for estates and even attorney's who administer estates are not always scrupulously ethical in what they do. If the estate has something that they would like, there are sometimes ways for them to ensure that they or a favored customer has the inside track on acquiring it.

Maybe your wife could make a deal with her sister, if she is competent to do it, to catalogue what is there and to photograph the guns and coins in a way that allow them to be identified. I really think you are taking a large risk if you simply let the auctioneer tell you what is there.

My 2 cents.

PS: Autotrader classics will give you some idea of values. You'll see the restored car values, but there are usually some unrestored ones that don't run that are for sale there. The unrestored ones are worth in the hundreds or low thousands, depending on whether the model is rare or not. There are similar sites for guns and coins.

bloom2708
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by bloom2708 » Fri Jun 27, 2014 12:14 pm

livesoft wrote:Here is today's example of uncollecting:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/ ... YB20140626 Phil Collins donates his Alamo collection


Thanks. A great example of un-collecting.

As a youth I collected thousands of baseball, football and other cards. I kept them for years. I had 3 daughters with no interest and values dropped.

I un-collected them. Nostalgia kept them, but they were just tote after tote of baggage to drag around. I must be in or near my mid-life re-evaluation. Less is more. :D
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Crow Hunter
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by Crow Hunter » Fri Jun 27, 2014 12:16 pm

For the firearms you can get a good idea of the value by using either The Blue Book of Gun Values or doing a search for similar items on Gunbroker.

Be aware that living in California will potentially restrict you bringing certain firearms or firearm parts (such as magazines) into the state that are perfectly legal in most other parts of America if you decide to keep any of the collection.

Condition can also have a significant affect on the value of firearms. Just like antique furniture a refinish can sometimes hurt or sometimes help depending on the provenance of the weapon.

chaz
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by chaz » Fri Jun 27, 2014 12:19 pm

Inventory everything to insure that all will be sold.
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by Mudpuppy » Fri Jun 27, 2014 12:31 pm

Perhaps this is cynical of me, but I would think that an in-person auction in a small Ohio town is not going to bring the same sort of value for the collection that online auctions or seeking out the appropriate resellers for such collections would bring. If your wife wants top-dollar for everything, then she needs to do the legwork to get that done (or see if her sister is willing to do the legwork). Having an auction house come in and sell everything is easy, but it's rarely going to get the heirs the best possible value for the collections.

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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by placeholder » Fri Jun 27, 2014 12:41 pm

Are these estate items going through probate or have they already been distributed to heirs because if the from it's up to the executor.

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Peter Foley
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by Peter Foley » Fri Jun 27, 2014 12:54 pm

Coins do not take up a lot of space. I would pull them out of the auction. Rarity and condition are key factors in determining value. They may or may not be particularly valuable. You really need someone with some expertise to look at them. I would take prudent up on his offer. You can use a coin book or "Coins" magazine to get a rough idea of value, but a difference in coin grade can mean hundreds of dollars on some coins.

Check out the coin actions on E-Bay to get an idea. Lots of early 20th century coins are fairly valuable

123
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by 123 » Fri Jun 27, 2014 1:30 pm

I had an elderly family friend who lived in another state and passed away. He had a couple of inoperative cars in his driveway. One, a European make, he had boosted he had been offered $40,000 for but didn't take it because it was too low. He also had a lot of junk lying around, inside and outside the house. When he passed away, without any family, his will directed that everything go to his church. There was a public executor appointed to "settle" the estate. Some time later I got around to looking up the court records for administration of the estate. It appeared that all personal property just got hauled away. There was no mention of the particular car on any inventory. I'm sure that "cleaning up" a property for sale in these kind of estate situations can be a very lucrative business.

The lesson to learn is that it could be very beneficial to segregate valuable assets in the disposal of an estate. The hard part is determining what is valuable. Many elderly folks keep a lot of items that are "priceless" to them but of no discernible value to others. Auctioneers and property clean-up firms provide a service that can be very useful. The difficulty is that if there are multiple beneficiaries for an estate there is less incentive for any individual beneficiary to look out for the interests of the estate as a whole, distance makes it harder.

Beneficiaries may feel guilt that they're not "doing enough" to ensure that an estate is being disposed of fairly. While a lot depends on the total size of the estate, real estate, investments, and personal property I would say that if 90% of the value finds its way to the beneficiaries that's pretty good. Turning personal property into cash is a time-consuming effort.
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davebarnes
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Excellent point

Post by davebarnes » Fri Jun 27, 2014 5:08 pm

Peter Foley wrote:Coins do not take up a lot of space. I would pull them out of the auction.

Keep them.
Do some research on their values.
Sell to local coin/gold shop.
A nerd living in Denver

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FelixTheCat
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by FelixTheCat » Fri Jun 27, 2014 5:50 pm

I hired an estate company when my mother passed. They did all of the work and took their cut. What was left over was donated to charity. It's up to you about how much or little you want to be involved.
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Bacchus01
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by Bacchus01 » Fri Jun 27, 2014 6:06 pm

I would be interested in buying all 4 cars. Message me.

Gattamelata
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by Gattamelata » Fri Jun 27, 2014 6:13 pm

Regard each collection as an individual asset. Assess each in terms of value and in terms of potential loss if the highest value isn't earned upon liquidation. Focus your efforts on the collections where there is both the most value and the highest information premium (i.e. there's a much larger and more efficient market for wine than, say, antique pocket watches, so it's easier to get a raw deal with the watches).

And it is probably worth breaking each of the cars into its own individual asset rather than viewing them as a collection.

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Taylor Larimore
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by Taylor Larimore » Fri Jun 27, 2014 6:23 pm

Bogleheads:

After my wife passed away last year, I began giving away, donating to charity, or selling most of the stuff we have accumulated during our 62 years of marriage.

It is a lot easier for me to dispose of unwanted things now (and get the best price and enjoy the tax-deductions) than for my children to dispose of stuff later.

Best wishes.
Taylor
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rleonardh
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by rleonardh » Fri Jun 27, 2014 6:28 pm

God bless you Taylor Larimore, all I have to say.

Calm Man
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by Calm Man » Fri Jun 27, 2014 7:54 pm

My father passed away after 88.5 years 3 months ago. My mother up until a few days ago kept bothering me about what the "children" wanted. I told the sibs that we would each take 2 things and tell mom that was what we want. )I took a tie and a belt). And now I am arranging for a charity to come and haul the rest away and do what they wish with it. I have one final criterion after my initial screen for the worthiness of the charity: that they can bring a truck that fits the items and that it be next week.

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sdsailing
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by sdsailing » Fri Jun 27, 2014 8:10 pm

I have experience in art and collectibles. The optimal auction or sale venue for coins, firearms and autos is different. To maximize return you would deal with at least three different auction houses. Possibly more if there are other categories of collections. Whether this is worth it depends on the relative value of items. If each category has the potential to be worth tens of thousands of dollars it will be worth it to divide things up in this way.

You could start by hiring an independent appraiser to determine these values roughly which should give an idea as to whether this is worth pursuing.

The biggest risk is probably with the coins. Large coin dealers will do their own auctions and take items on commission.

Someone should be there at all times during the inventory.

Crow Hunter
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by Crow Hunter » Sat Jun 28, 2014 12:27 pm

To the Op.

If you aren't familiar with firearms and need some help identifying them you can PM me and I will give you my email address and you can send me pictures of them. I can try and help you get them identified at least and maybe point you in the direction of value and where to try and sell them. Some types of guns sell better to certain groups than others. Such as antique military collectibles vs old west collectibles vs antique hunting vs self defense oriented vs sporting clays vs modern military vs just plinkers/shooters.

All of them won't appeal to all gun collectors and some will appeal extremely well to certain groups.

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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by Silverado » Sat Jun 28, 2014 5:21 pm

Mudpuppy wrote:Perhaps this is cynical of me, but I would think that an in-person auction in a small Ohio town is not going to bring the same sort of value for the collection that online auctions or seeking out the appropriate resellers for such collections would bring. If your wife wants top-dollar for everything, then she needs to do the legwork to get that done (or see if her sister is willing to do the legwork). Having an auction house come in and sell everything is easy, but it's rarely going to get the heirs the best possible value for the collections.


That area of the midwest is a hotbed of collectors of all sorts of things. If there are quality items the money will show. I have some 'people' in that area and am always amazed at the cash that gets generated at those estate auctions. I will give them the heads up on those items you listed.

We did some belated spring cleaning here at the house today and I am very pleased with purging some boxes. I had all my HS football jerseys. Those are useful. Lined them up on the floor, snapped a picture, and tossed. My large collection of baseball pins showing the years and all star results: stuck them into the side of a box, wrote a couple notes for a couple, snapped a picture, and tossed. I want my estate to consist of whatever money is left and a well worn passport. The wine I am planning to somehow take with me. I find it strange the collections some people have that seem to be simply as something to pass on. What a pain. All it does IMO is make auction houses rich. And if you are lucky it causes some good family strife.

Boglemama
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by Boglemama » Sun Jun 29, 2014 3:46 am

Mudpuppy wrote:Perhaps this is cynical of me, but I would think that an in-person auction in a small Ohio town is not going to bring the same sort of value for the collection that online auctions or seeking out the appropriate resellers for such collections would bring. If your wife wants top-dollar for everything, then she needs to do the legwork to get that done (or see if her sister is willing to do the legwork). Having an auction house come in and sell everything is easy, but it's rarely going to get the heirs the best possible value for the collections.


+1

john94549
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by john94549 » Sun Jun 29, 2014 10:00 pm

I sold my Mom's "stuff" in an estate sale, the company's percentage was 40%, and I still ponder whether the sales were rigged. That said, unless you are willing to warehouse the inventory, sell it piece-by-piece, and clean out the house for prospective buyers, an estate sale is the path of least resistance.

gtmn
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by gtmn » Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:29 am

I concur with suggestions to create a thorough inventory and seek experts on the various asset types for independent appraisal. A lot of people collect a lot of junk, but sometimes they have a real gem amongst the junk. When my grandma passed my mother lived far away but her brother lived next door. One day he thought he was just cleaning out the junk in the attic, but he threw away tens of thousands of dollars worth of magazines and antiques that were truly amazing pieces. He also brought home a desk that turned out to be worth over $50,000. Not knowing the value, he let his daughter spray paint it white and now it's worth a fraction of that. My uncle was a good guy who just wanted to get the job done, but he wasted a lot of money by not having items appraised first.

You may find after several appraisals that there isn't anything of significant value. But you won't know until at least some of it gets appraised. If you have a digital inventory of items, it will expedite the appraisal process because you can seek the online advice of other people passionate about their collectibles.

Good luck,

gtmn

donall
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by donall » Mon Jun 30, 2014 10:13 am

I concur with pervious posters to take the coins out of the sale and spend some time to have more accurate appraisals done. Seniors have a habit of hiding items in books, between sheets, pockets, and various long forgotten places for safeguarding. I would also recommend using a metal detector in the yard if there are any coins of value.

Doing research is time well spent. Don't forget to look at state websites for forgotten accounts or money owed.

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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by psteinx » Mon Jun 30, 2014 10:32 am

It's a trade-off of time vs. value received. To wring out the maximum value will take time.

I'm not an expert in any of the key categories (guns, coins, old cars). That said, I think the poster upthread who suggested that the car values were not that high is probably correct. Yes, you here about old cars selling for 6 and 7 figures - but those are well restored Ferraris, Dusenbergs, and the like. Three old Fords and an old Lincoln, all non-running and unrestored, are probably not worth very much.

I also agree with those who suggest that dealing with specialists by category may be worthwhile. If there is really significant value in the coins and/or guns, then they're small and portable enough that taking them to appropriate specialists for appraisals/offers should not be that big of a burden.

Expect to face large transactional costs. Estate auction fees of 20% actually sound low-ish. Selling to a retailer (i.e. a coin shop), I would assume that you will have to take a substantial haircut to 'retail' price. Everybody wants to make a living, and if the absolute values of the items in questions are not that high, then the percentages that the middlemen need to make for their time, expertise, and risk are not trivial.

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Dtort
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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by Dtort » Mon Jun 30, 2014 11:50 am

For any American Coins, The Official Blue Book: A Handbook of U.S. Coins is a good guide to what a dealer may offer you. Its companion ("The Red Book") has suggested retail prices and would be useful if you seek to sell the items yourself.
And I agree with those who say to go through the estate's items carefully. You never know where seniors will have hidden stashes of cash or other valuable items - pockets, between pages of books, etc. Cleaning up my beloved FIL's house became a kind of sad treasure hunt.

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Re: Ideas on how deal with estate with tons of items

Post by kaudrey » Mon Jun 30, 2014 4:42 pm

I don't have much to add, but I guess this is a good lesson that maybe, as we get older, we should start to think about what will happen with our stuff when we pass. My father, who is 77, has started to reduce his antique tool collection, because some of it is valuable and he knows my sister and I won't want most of it.

When my grandmother passed many years ago, the immediately family went through the house, and everyone, including us grandkids, was allowed to take what we wanted. She didn't have anything really valuable. My sister and I took some jewelry, I took some antique wine glasses and a bedroom set that I liked. I also made a collage of old photos of my grandparents, my dad and my aunt (from about 70-75 years ago), that were just thrown in a drawer in my grandmother's extra bedroom. My family members always comment on that when they visit - it is hanging in my living room. Anyway, after we all took a few things as remembrances, my dad and aunt donated the rest to charity (again, there wasn't anything really valuable).

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