Do you have to liquidate the belongings of a family member or loved one? If so, you face what is, for many people, a daunting job. One of the easiest and fastest ways to handle the estate is to use an estate sale. But before you open the doors to public shoppers, you’ll need to decide how and what to sell and what not to sell. How can you do this successfully? Here are three steps to follow.

1. Talk With the Family

Liquidating the physical belongings of a loved one should be a conversation that involves everyone. While one or two individuals may need to be in charge of the actual sale, the whole family should have some level of awareness as to what goes on. If anyone is kept out of the loop, there may be conflict.

Any family meetings should come up with some ground rules about a few key points. First, how will sentimental items be handled? Who will choose their own keepsakes, and in what order? Who can veto choices, and how can the process be kept as fair as possible? How will joint heirs break stalemates? And what decisions should be shared versus unilateral?

Second, decide on a set of goals for the estate liquidation. Does the family want to wrap things up quickly? Get top dollar? Protect the privacy of the family or the estate? Each of these goals informs the sale process. If you value privacy foremost, for instance, you may opt for a private sale or omit some items from the liquidation. Setting shared goals makes family members less likely to micromanage your work.

2. Hire a Professional

A professional appraiser or estate sale service can help tremendously as you determine what to sell and what prices you can expect for certain things. They can usually work either on a per-hour basis or as part of an estate sale plan, walking through the home and valuing items both big and small.

Try to have an appraisal done before the family has decided on particular items to be kept or sold. Why? You should have all the facts before anyone agrees to any division of assets. If something ends up with a higher-than-expected value — or lower-than-expected — it could create resentment, squabbles, or even litigation.

3. Separate ‘No Sale’ Items

Once you have spoken with the family to come up with some ground rules and have assessed the value of items, you should decide what will not be included in the sale. If possible, remove these items from the home so that estate sale shoppers never even see them. Otherwise, you may get some persistent and pesky buyers.

There are several categories of items that should be held out. First, get rid of anything that shouldn’t be sold for safety reasons — such as expired food or opened alcohol. Second, separate low-value items that will not be worth the time and effort to sell. Third, remove any items earmarked as a family memento from the home so that they never accidentally mingle with the items for sale.

Finally, separate high-value items that may be worth selling through a different means. If your loved one was a collector in a niche field, for instance, that collection might get a much better price if advertised and sold through a specific niche collecting community instead of through the general public.

An estate sale is more than just a financial transaction. For most families, this is also an emotional time; one that is fraught with potential conflicts. If you follow these few steps, you and your loved ones can accomplish your sale for greater profit and better family relations. Want to know more about estate sale planning? Talk with the professionals at Peachtree Battle Estate Sales & Liquidations today.

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