How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

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oxothuk
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How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by oxothuk » Wed Dec 11, 2013 8:17 pm

My wife is the executor for a sibling who died unexpectedly. Like most of us, this person had a house full of stuff. There are a few low-density/high-value items (e.g., computers, TV) but a lot more high-density items with low to moderate value (clothes, furniture, china, cookware). There are only a few items, not particularly valuable, which have enough sentimental value for other family members to desire them.

There are two complicating factors:
a) the house where this person lived is two time-zones away from us.
b) it is uncertain whether the estate will be solvent (depends on sale price of the house).

Does anyone have experience with obtaining a fair price for a housefull-of-stuff in situations like this? Are there companies that do this? If so, what kind of terms do they usually offer? How does one find a reputable company?

Finally, how does one document to the creditors of the estate that the effects were sold for a fair price? I think we can do that for the high-value items by pulling data from e-bay, but that isn't practical for the thousands of low-value items.

curmudgeon
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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by curmudgeon » Wed Dec 11, 2013 8:33 pm

You can hire out an estate sale. Lots are done this way. Terms will depend very much on the quality/salability of the effects (especially if the family has picked over the more valuable stuff). I've heard of fees in the 20-30% of gross for sales done in place. The seller would provide an accounting for the goods, and the arms-length nature of the transaction provides a pretty good documentation of the value. There are also options to have the effects packed up and taken to a warehouse for sale; which may have higher overhead cost.

Search for estate sales in the city/county involved, and look for ads that have a company associated. You could also ask for references from an estate attorney if one is involved. Get bids/estimates from several people.

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tainted-meat
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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by tainted-meat » Wed Dec 11, 2013 9:15 pm

There's probably a local auctioneer that will do it.

Calm Man
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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by Calm Man » Wed Dec 11, 2013 9:56 pm

Charity, They can haul it all away and you don't have to deal with it. Life is too short in my opinion to go to the effort and attempt to make profit off the possessions of a dead person. I do not mean that in a cruel way. I would just want to be done with it.

nordsteve
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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by nordsteve » Wed Dec 11, 2013 10:02 pm

In our area (MN), you would use an estate sale firm to sell personal property like what you describe.

You need to be careful selecting a firm:

. the sales commission percentage isn't the only thing to consider -- if you select a firm with more pricing expertise you might end up with more money, even though the firm charges more

. check recent references, particularly whether they've been paid. We had a situation in our area with a well known estate firm that stopped paying people: http://www.startribune.com/local/west/150307745.html

S

oxothuk
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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by oxothuk » Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:01 am

Calm Man wrote:Charity, They can haul it all away and you don't have to deal with it. Life is too short in my opinion to go to the effort and attempt to make profit off the possessions of a dead person. I do not mean that in a cruel way. I would just want to be done with it.

Charity would be our first choice, except that we don't know yet whether the estate has enough assets to pay all the creditors. We don't want those creditors to accuse my wife (the executor) of giving away assets that should have been sold for their benefit.

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DaleMaley
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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by DaleMaley » Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:20 am

Have never dealt with a long-distance issue like this one.

Here in the Midwest, we typically hire an auction house to do an estate sale. Some auctioneers have indoors facilities, so auction can be held indoors during inclimate weather. In the 3 summer months, the auction is often held at the house, with all the goods placed on hayracks. With only 3 months of good weather, each Saturday is packed with several different auctions going on, so getting enough bidders can be an issue.

My mother moved to town from the old farm house, and we used an auction at the farm house to dispose of the goods. We probably did not get the best prices because there were 3 auctions going on the same Saturday, but at least we got rid of it all :D
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goodenoughinvestor
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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by goodenoughinvestor » Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:20 am

unless it's high-quality, sellable stuff, you may have difficulty finding a charity that will expend the time and money to pick up and haul it away. Unfortunately, in the end you may have to pay a disposal company to remove all items that don't sell via an estate sale. The process can be emotionally upsetting so my advice is that everyone in the family take anything of sentimental value that they would be upset to see end up in a landfill, because once it's gone, it's gone.

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soaring
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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by soaring » Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:44 am

There are a few low-density/high-value items (e.g., computers, TV)


If those (computers & TV) are the most valuable then likely there is little value overall and unlikely an Auctioneer would be interested but no harm in having them look. After 30-40% fee by auctioneer it may not be worth your effort. If they decline then Goodwill in many areas will pack an entire house and provide a detailed receipt for tax purposes (there will likely be a final tax return due).

Either will usually look it over and tell you if they will perform the task.
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btenny
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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by btenny » Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:40 pm

You and your wife are going to have to burn a bunch of your vacation to get this executor job started and deal with all the stuff and put the house up for sale. You need to travel there to do stuff and make decisions. You may have to spend some of your own money for your expenses to get things started until the bank accounts and utilities and so forth are set up in the name of the estate. Stay in the house to save money if necessary. In your case you need a bunch of death certificates to get your wife's name on the various accounts. Start there. I am not sure what to do for needed cash for bills while the house sells if there is no income or savings. I would consult a estate attorney about the $$ issue and the possibility of not enough to cover all the bills. It took us 3.5 months to clean out the house and get it ready for sale and to set up the accounts and paperwork and so forth so do not rush. I expect it will take 1-1.5 years plus tax stuff to finish the estate. There is just a lot of stuff to do. Fortunately a lot of the paperwork part can be done remotely after the house is set up for sale.

See below for my experience.

We are in the middle of doing exactly this process for my father-in-law. He passed away in early May. He lived in his home for 33 years so it was stuffed. He lived about 35 miles away. Fortunately he was comfortable so we had no $$ issues. My wife was signatory on his bank account so we did not have any delays. We and my BIL are working for free but dividing the assets.

We (wife and BIL and me) spent about 2-3 weeks (after the funeral, so 4+ week later) clearing out all the personal stuff like clothes and jewelry and stuff from the house. My wife could not do it non-stop, it was too emotionally draining and painful. Maybe this could have been done in 5ish days best case. We gave away most of it to a big local Veterans groups that helps vets and the homeless. They took away BIG truck loads. They took old TV's, stereos, clothes, etc. My wife and the grandkids took most of the kitchen stuff and dishes and small appliances. We also gave away some old lower quality and low cost furniture like TV stands and old book cases. It was a big job. I expect if we had sold all the stuff via estate sale or multiple garage sales we might have netted $400 or so. Who knows. A big quantity of very nice suits was the only reason to expect more than $100.

We left the house full of furniture and we sort of "rearranged and staged the furniture" to make the house look nice. The furniture is pretty good stuff and in good shape. Two kings beds, lots of nice real wood maple and cherry tables and so forth. We also painted and fixed some plumbing and related stuff in the garage. Now the house is for sale.

In your situation if the furniture is low quality and not nice for showing and selling a home I might sell all of it first after clearing out the personal stuff.

We did the same with the garage but that effort took 4 more weeks. My BIL took care of most of this since he lives close. It was packed with left over wood, metal and all kinds of projects and excess tools. My FIL was a wood worker and tool guy. We are selling the tools on Craigslist but don't expect to get more than $1.5K max. We ended up moving a lot of stuff to my garage to enable the home sale to be started. The tool sale effort is still in progress but clean enough to allow the home to be shown.

Putting the house up for sale and doing related paperwork estate stuff sucked up more days and took a lot of time. I would guess around 20 days spread out over the last 5 months. The house is not sold. There is just tons of paperwork and things to watch out for. Keeping the power turned on, keeping insurance in force, moving account names, setting up a trust to distribute his $$, setting up new bank accounts for the trust to pay for power etc. during the sale period, going thru old paperwork, etc... Just lots of stuff. It is fairly common for this paperwork and selling of homes to take 1-3 years to complete so don't rush or become frustrated. It is just a lot of paperwork.

When we sell the house we plan to sell some of the furniture via estate sale or a local used furniture place and renting a truck and taking some of it to distant relatives. All told my wife thinks there is maybe $1500 worth of furniture plus 2 very nice king beds and one nice couch. Not much $$ since used furniture sells for pennies on the dollar.

Sorry for your loss. You can deal with all the issues. It just takes time.

MooreBonds
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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by MooreBonds » Sat Dec 14, 2013 10:30 am

oxothuk wrote:but a lot more high-density items with low to moderate value (clothes, furniture, china, cookware). There are only a few items, not particularly valuable, which have enough sentimental value for other family members to desire them.

There are two complicating factors:
a) the house where this person lived is two time-zones away from us.
b) it is uncertain whether the estate will be solvent (depends on sale price of the house).



I'd have family and friends come by the house to see if there was anything they wanted, and then simply have a thrift store/charity take everything that's left.

For things like furniture/china/clothes, simply check out Craigslist to see what they go for (hint: not very much at all). Maybe $50-$100 each for furniture - and that's IF it sells. I don't have direct experience, but I'm guessing that most people that go through estate sales are looking for decent/higher end furniture and things. Average clothes/average china/average cookware is worth maybe a few bucks a piece (if that!), and is more on a garage sale level. I'm guessing you MIGHT get a few hundred dollars for everything if the most desirable things sold....so not really worth the hassle, IMO.

letsgobobby
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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by letsgobobby » Thu May 18, 2017 2:24 pm

Calm Man wrote:Charity, They can haul it all away and you don't have to deal with it. Life is too short in my opinion to go to the effort and attempt to make profit off the possessions of a dead person. I do not mean that in a cruel way. I would just want to be done with it.

Who would receive the charitable deduction in this case?
Bags of clothes in good or better condition add up fast and the deduction can be substantial.

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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by JGoneRiding » Thu May 18, 2017 2:34 pm

Calm Man wrote:Charity, They can haul it all away and you don't have to deal with it. Life is too short in my opinion to go to the effort and attempt to make profit off the possessions of a dead person. I do not mean that in a cruel way. I would just want to be done with it.


That might get them in trouble with creditors were ifthey contract out the selling and document the profit no matter how tiny they won't be.

There are always companies that do this. Don't do none licensed individuals.

But then the thing is if there are valuable items family would like they may need to pay the estate for them. If he owes others money.

123
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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by 123 » Thu May 18, 2017 2:58 pm

We've had to clean out households in similar situations. The best perspective to take is that you want to pass personal stuff to people who want it and then to dispose of the rest of it. You will be done the fastest if you enter into the task with the thought that the idea is to pass the stuff along and not that you want to see any financial return from the operation. Clothes, household odd & ends, and kitchen stuff can all go to Goodwill, Salvation Army, or similar local charity. Garage stuff may be accepted by neighbors (mowers, edgers, etc). I would leave appliances and furniture in the home as kind of a staging and include them as part of the property sale, some buyers may not have another $2,000 - $5,000 for appliances etc and the property could be more attractive to them.
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RudyS
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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by RudyS » Thu May 18, 2017 3:11 pm

letsgobobby wrote:
Calm Man wrote:Charity, They can haul it all away and you don't have to deal with it. Life is too short in my opinion to go to the effort and attempt to make profit off the possessions of a dead person. I do not mean that in a cruel way. I would just want to be done with it.

Who would receive the charitable deduction in this case?
Bags of clothes in good or better condition add up fast and the deduction can be substantial.


Two possibilities: 1- whomever inherits the stuff can take the donation as a deduction, if they itemize.
2 - not sure on this - help needed - if deceased has still to file a final return, then they could get the deduction.

mrsytf
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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by mrsytf » Thu May 18, 2017 3:20 pm

Do creditors look at personal effects as assets? It seems that only houses, vehicles, jewelry, works of art and electronics would quality. Used clothing, kitchen appliances and even furniture seems as if it would barely even register a blink. It is only really worth as much as you say it is worth. If you don't think the items are of high enough quality to be above garage sale level, then donate it. Someone will use it. I would keep the furniture as others have suggested for staging purposes.

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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by 3spots » Thu May 18, 2017 7:01 pm

FWIW,my mom passed in January and my dad asked that I photo each article of clothing as documentation for the IRS.

She had 900 articles of clothing: sweaters, pants, shoes, purses. I dutifully photographed them in groups, and then using the Salvation Army guidelines made a spreadsheet. i didn't evaluate the condition. At low end, the donation would be $2500. At high end, $10,000. I am not sure what my dad will elect to use.

I am not sure it was worth the time, although I did find an envelope with $500 in it for my dad!

spammagnet
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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by spammagnet » Thu May 18, 2017 10:47 pm

ItsDeductibleOnline may help with inventory, if not using professional services.

white_water
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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by white_water » Fri May 19, 2017 12:11 am

Caveat: there are unethical "estate sales" businesses. An estate sales group had a contract which gave them the unsold items to dispose of.
The next of kin weren't on the premises. The "estate sales" marked up a number of desirable items high enough that they didn't sell. I overheard them talking among themselves about taking those items home for re-sale later, getting the full amount instead of a commission.

There is a growing trend in our area for churches to manage estate sales as a fund raiser. That may work for your situation.

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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by daveydoo » Fri May 19, 2017 1:02 am

So sorry you're going through this. Just finished this for a relative on the other side of the country.

First, know that you will not get much money. If you're like us, you're looking for someone to empty the place out as much as find and sell the valuables. If the relative is your generation (sad, I know), then your eye will be pretty good for valuables. If you're a generation or two removed, eBay is a big help (see below).

We went with a one-stop person who empties the place, donates what can be donated, consigns the good furniture to an auctioneer, and hauls away the rest. We got a modest check from the auctioneer that only offset the cost of the clean-out by ~ 20%. Relatives and I moved a few pieces of furniture cross-country (not worth it, financially, but had sentimental value) and boxed up some china and glassware for the same reasons. We went through the place pretty carefully first. This was an apartment so we did not need to be present when the cleaners were let in.

Watch "estate sale" companies, imo. They typically bring in all kinds of crap from other locales and stage it there -- can create false impressions about the original occupants. Spouse saw a mammoth stack of "vintage" porn in one such house and, well, I don't think my relative would have gone for that. (I mean maybe they would have but they wouldn't have wanted it out for the curious neighbors to ogle -- and with a price-tag.)

To get an idea of resale price on eBay, can search for identical items sold within the past 14 days. (AFAIK, that’s as far back as eBay will let you go.) Start by searching for a specific item on eBay. On the results page, in the upper right, just to the right of the blue Search button, click on the word “Advanced.” The linked menu will be pre-populated with your item. Under “Search Including,” check “Sold listings” and not “Completed listings” (the latter can just end with an inflated price and without a sale). Under “Buying Format,” check “Auction” and “Buy it Now.” Under “Condition,” check “Used” (and “New,” if that’s also what you’re interested in). I’ve used this to help value some estate items and to know whether some things have genuine resale value. It’s not what something is “worth” that matters; it’s what people are actually willing to pay for it. I’ve sold my kids’ old (but good) tennis racquets, older cameras, some tech stuff, etc. Dollars-per-hour, it hasn’t been a winner compared to my “day job.”

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celia
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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by celia » Fri May 19, 2017 1:48 am

First thing you need to do is locate a will/trust showing you as the executor/trustee. Then I think you should contact the heirs and ask them all to email you by a certain date specifying what personal mementos they would like to request (with no guarantee they will get them). Also ask if anyone is available to help out on cleaning out the house with you (the executor). But of course, you have to be there the whole time the house is open, unless there is someone else you can trust. Then go there and check the situation out.

Collect all the paperwork and correspondence you find to bring back home and have the mail forwarded to your house. Ask a neighbor or two to remove flyers left at the door and find/keep someone to water the yard and mow so things don't die. Have 2 or 3 realtors meet you there to give you an estimate of what the house might sell for and ask for their opinion if it would sell better if the large furniture stayed there or should be removed. Also ask them for a recommendation of a company that does estate sales.

Go through the house and remove everything valuable and the mementos people would like to have and all the photos. Lock this stuff up in the garage to prevent theft. (Buy a new lock if necessary). See if there is a car to be sold and drive it around the block if it hasn't been driven lately. Figure out how you will sell the car(s). Don't drop car or homeowners insurance until after the sales.

After seeing the place and talking to the realtors, you will have a better idea of what needs to be done and who to call. While doing this, secure things so they don't "disappear".

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Re: How to dispose of household effects (estate sale?)

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Fri May 19, 2017 7:07 am

This is a 4 year old thread.

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