How to Sell the Valuables of a Deceased Loved One
When a loved one dies, it can be difficult to know what to do with their belongings. Should you keep them, sell them, or give them away? And if you do decide to sell them, how should you go about it? Following are some of the options for selling the belongings of a deceased, along with the types of companies you can go to for help with this process.
First things first: Probate
Before you can do anything with a deceased person's belongings, you (most often) need to go through the probate process. This is a legal process that gives you the authority to deal with their belongings and estate. Note that not every single estate has to go through probate, so you’ll need to check with the probate court before getting started. Once you have been granted probate, you can then start to sort through their belongings and decide what to do with them.
If you're not the executor of the estate, you'll need to work alongside the executor of the estate to know when you're in the clear and can get to work selling the valuables and other items. There are certain pieces of property that are exempt from the probate process (such as property that's held in a living trust, vehicles that have a transfer on death form, and some other property), but it's important to work with the probate court and the executor of the estate to determine which property is subject to probate before you start selling belongings. It's also important to remember that probate is not a short process -- sometimes probate can take years, depending on the size of the estate!
Is removing items before probate legal?
Removing items before probate could end in you being held legally responsible for those items should they be damaged or lost. If you believe you need to remove items before probate, you should consult with the estate executor or an estate attorney before doing so.
Once you're in the clear and have the green light to start selling valuables, it's time to get started. You should first sort through the belongings and decide what to keep, what to sell, and what to donate or throw away. This can be a difficult process, especially if you're sorting through belongings that have sentimental value. It's important to be honest with yourself about what you're likely to use or display in your home and what you're not. You may want to keep some belongings for sentimental reasons, but try to be realistic about what will fit in your home and what won't (or you may find yourself holding a lot of items that just take up space and should have been sold).
Step 1: Take a deep breath
Selling any kind of belongings can be a stressful process, even without the added complexity of selling the belongings of a deceased loved one. Before you get started, try to take a deep breath and come up with a plan. If possible, consult with friends and family who may be able to help you with this process as they may have tips, guidance, and be able to offer a helping hand. Your plan should address some of the following:
- What's your ideal time frame for getting all the belongings sorted and sold?
- Are you willing to hire help in order to sell all the belongings?
- Are you planning on handling this job on your own?
- Will you have to take time off work or off of other responsibilities to accomplish this project?
- How many rooms do you need to go through?
- Is there storage or offsite locations you'll need to go through as well?
- Do you have the proper equipment to sort, pack, and move any items?
- How much money do you expect to receive from selling the belongings, total?
- Are you open to having the items appraised by a professional?
- Who will help you with this project and when are they available?
- Are you emotionally ready to deal with sorting through personal belongings after a death?
- Are you able to emotionally handle deciding when to dispose of deceased belongings and when to keep them? If not, how can you prepare yourself to tackle this project and get rid of loved ones belongings?
These questions are good to keep in mind and have an answer to before you dive in and get started. Once you've nailed down the logistics, it's time to pause and assess whether or not you're going to hand this project over to professionals.
Step 2: Consider hiring a professional
What is home liquidation?
Home liquidation is the process of selling all the belongings in a house. This typically happens when someone dies, and their belongings need to be sold in order to settle their estate. Home liquidation can also happen when someone goes through a major life change, such as a divorce, and they need to sell all their belongings in order to start fresh.
If you're interested in liquidating an estate with the help of household liquidation services, you'll need to start consulting with professionals in your area. The process of holding a house liquidation sale can require the service of several individuals including an estate appraiser, an estate sale agent, cleaning services, auction companies, and more. There are full service options available to those who live in select states. (For those living in states not included in this list, try doing a Google search for terms such as "companies that buy house contents near me" or "house liquidation companies near me".) Going with a full service option is a great choice for those who feel overwhelmed and aren't sure what to do with stuff after someone dies. Depending on the company, full service options will buyout the entire property (items and all) and handle the cleaning, sorting, selling, and removing items from the house after death.
Step 3: Sort through and identify items
If you're handling this on your own or with the help of friends and family, the next step is to sort through items. This can be a daunting task, especially if you don't know where to start. A great place to begin is with the belongings in each room. As you go through each room, make three different piles: items to keep, items to donate/give away, and items to sell. It may also be worth having a separate pile for items that you deem valuable. This process will help give you a better idea of what needs to be sold and what can be disposed of.
Once you've sorted through each room, it's time to start going through belongings pile by pile. With each item, ask yourself a few questions:
- Do I need this?
- Do I want this?
- Does someone else need or want this?
- What is the sentimental value of this item?
- What is the supposed monetary value of this item?
Step 4: Start selling items
Now that you've separated items into these categories, it's time to start selling the valuables. If it's a valuable item that you know the origin of, doing a quick search on Google or Ebay will give you an idea as to how much it costs. Once you've identified the price, you have a few different routes you can take when it comes to actively selling the item. Some options include:
- Sell it online through a site like Ebay or Craigslist
- Have an estate sale
- Bring it to a consignment shop
- Bring it to a pawnshop
- Bring it to a local antique store
- Post the items on a memorial website
When selling belongings of a deceased loved one, you want to make sure you're getting the best possible price for each item. Oftentimes, people are quick to undervalue belongings because they hold sentimental value. With that in mind, be realistic about prices and don't let sentimentality cloud your judgment.
If you're not sure where to start, take some time to do research on each option. Once you've decided on the best route for selling, take action and get started!
Selling belongings can be a time-consuming process, but it's important to take your time and be patient. If you rush through the process, you run the risk of making mistakes and leaving money on the table.
Setting up a memorial website on Ever Loved is an easy way to post belongings you’re giving away, share event information, collect memories and photos, and raise donations. Memorial websites on Ever Loved are free, easy to use, and are fast to set up.