estate sale 101

Estate Sale 101: How To Prepare For Selling A Late Loved One’s Belongings

Following the death of a family member an estate sale is a good way to sort through many possessions accumulated over the deceased’s lifetime. There could be many things that you find useful, hold sentimental value, or simply want – but what about the rest?


An estate sale is one way to distribute those items that you do not want or need quickly and efficiently. Similar to a garage sale, furniture, jewelry, artwork, antiques, and other belongings you have no use for can be given a chance to have a second home and create new memories for others.


Is It Time To Call In The Professionals?

One of the drawbacks of doing this yourself is that it can take up a great deal of time and effort on your part. Thankfully, there are companies that help families sell items.

An estate sale company will do all the work in exchange for a percentage of the proceeds — which typically ranges anywhere between 25 percent and 50 percent. The main tasks that these companies usually handle are:

  • Organizing the inventory
  • Staging the house
  • Appraising the value of items and setting prices
  • Promoting the sale to the public
  • Hiring workers to run the sale.

However, be prepared that not everything for sale will get sold. If you are thinking of hiring, talk to the liquidation company about what your next steps will be with regard to unsold items. You may need to pay a separate fee to the liquidator for cleaning up following the sale, including donating or disposing of any goods that do not sell.


Getting Ready For An Estate Sale



  • Ensure that you have the legal right to sell the property. There cannot be any unresolved estate issues. Companies may request legal documentation showing that you have the right to dispose of the property.
  • Remove from the house anything you want to keep before calling in the liquidators. This is to ensure they will not be included in the sale.
  • Ask your liquidating company these important questions:
    • How do they handle security?
    • What happens to goods that do not sell?
    • What type of clean-up is included?
  • Make sure your liquidator carries insurance. This is helpful in case there are any accidents while buyers are at the estate sale.
  • Ensure the company offers a written contract.
  • Be prepared to sit out the sale. Note that many companies discourage families from being present during the actual sale.




  • Choose an estate sale company at random. There is no regulatory body that oversees the estimated 15,000 estate sale companies in the United States. Before hiring one of them, rely on a referral from a trusted friend or family member or do some research.

TIP: You can search the website of the American Society of Estate Liquidators, a trade association that requires its members to meet certain requirements and abide by an ethics code.

  • Skip the reviews. Check your local Better Business Bureau and Yelp for complaints about companies you are considering, or attend a sale run by the company.
  • Throw too much away. There may be belongings that don’t necessarily capture your fancy, but remember: one person’s idea of trash might be another person’s treasure.


If you’ve recently lost a loved one and need help with the settling the decedent’s estate, call on the Law Office of Antoinette Bone to be your  . We are here to help guide you through the Probate process and do the heavy lifting.

Schedule an appointment today!

To comply with the U.S. Treasury regulations, we must inform you that (i) any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this newsletter was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any person for the purpose of avoiding U.S. federal tax penalties that may be imposed on such person and (ii) each taxpayer should seek advice from their tax advisor based on the taxpayer’s particular circumstances.

Nothing in this message is intended to provide legal advice.  This message is for educational purposes only.


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