As if losing someone we love isn’t hard enough, having to handle their estate just adds to the pain. On top of dealing with all of the emotions, you then have the overwhelming task of dealing with selling your loved one’s home and sorting through any property or possessions that are left behind– and this is only made harder if there is no will. This is undoubtedly a challenging time for everyone involved, so it is understandable that so many people make mistakes in the process. To help you navigate through this phase with the least amount of pain, here are a few things to be wary of and, when faced with them, how to best deal with them.
#1: Sorting Through Possessions One By One
When people start going through their loved one’s possessions, they tend to look through every single item individually as they work their way through the house. Unfortunately, this method is really time consuming. It can take hours just to look through one room alone.
Pro Tip: To avoid getting burnt out fast, use the following sorting method to divide items into four file boxes: personal correspondence, photographs & home videos, legal documents, and medical paperwork. Go through the house looking specifically for these items and then place them in the right box. You have now removed a whole layer of the most important items from the home. You can wait until later to go through each of these bins and at that time, make decisions on what to keep.
#2: Undervaluing Things You Don’t Know Much About
As people go through their loved ones’ possessions, they pick out items to keep or sell and then put other valuable things on the curb simply because they do not have a personal connection to them, or they don’t know their worth– and the things that they are unsure of can be worth a pretty penny. Avoid making the assumption that things aren’t valuable because it is a hobby of yours or a piece of art you’d pick out.
Instead, reach out to an appraiser before you go through the estate to be sure that you are not overlooking valuable or rare items.
#3: Overvaluing Things You Love Or Feel Connected To
This happens all too often. When people see something that they like, they tend to value it more than what it is actually worth. Jewelry is one of these items; people might assume that because there is an entire collection, it is valuable, but this is not always true. Vintage Miriam Haskell rhinestone brooches can be worth hundreds but typically, unsigned rhinestone brooches that are of the same age are worth less than $50.
How Do You Avoid Overvaluing Things? Keep realistic expectations and hire an appraiser to tell you exactly how much things are worth.
#4: Ignoring The Attic And Basement
Even if your parents came from humble beginnings, they could still have spent time collecting items of value. Assuming that they don’t have anything of value can leave you losing a lot of money if you are looking for things to sell.
So, don’t be afraid to check the attic and basement. This tends to be where the most valuable items are found as it kept them out of harm’s way through the years.
#5: Allowing Friends To Sort through And Assess The Estate For Free
Over the years, friends become family especially if you grew up together and they were close to your lost loved one. Vintage-loving friends might offer to help go through the estate and it can seem better than hiring someone because you’re saving money. But if they aren’t experts, it might not be the best option. Could you imagine seeing something they donated on Antiques Roadshow?
#6: Choosing To Sell To Dealers Instead Of Collectors
Many people are quick to sell valuable items to dealers but know this: a jeweler is going to give you less money for your jewelry than a customer who absolutely loves it. For the jeweler, it’s all about making money; consumers just want that beautiful piece you have and they’re willing to pay for it. End buyers aren’t looking to make a profit, so they are willing to pay more for the things they like– this goes for all collectible items.
#7: Not Dealing With The Deceased’s Debts
We’ve talked about handling all the profitable items in an estate, but it is important to remember that estates also include debts. The United States’ Federal Trade Commission says that, in most cases, family members of the deceased are not responsible for paying the deceased’s debts. If there is not enough in the estate to cover debts, the remainder will be left unpaid. But there are some circumstances when family members might be left responsible. If they signed an obligation, they are married to the deceased, or if they are legally responsible for the handling of the estate but have not complied with the laws.
Be very proactive when following up on debts. Be sure that any obligations are met as according to the law. You might consider hiring a lawyer and contacting your state attorney general’s office if you need any assistance with this.
Tom Reese has 20+ years experience in helping his clients sell their homes for a price that sells and makes them a profit. Tom has helped his clients buy and sell property in every neighborhood in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati.
About Tom Reese
Helping my clients attain their dreams has been the foundation of my success. With my strong attention to customer service, I have earned my clients continued support and referrals. Put my enthusiasm and dedication to work for you!
Call Tom anytime at (859) 393-1293