My mother has been gone for about five years and my father died six months ago (..) ?

Posted: January 12, 2012 9:32 pm

Question: My mother has been gone for about five years and my father died six months ago. They lived in the same house for 40 years and every room is full of the stuff my parents accumulated over all those years. I don’t know what’s valuable, if anything, or what to do with it all. My sister wants a few things, and I may take a few items for sentimental reasons, but there will be plenty left over. What do you recommend?

Answer: Most houses are populated by a mixture of things. Every house has some trash that can be disposed of (opened food products, old magazines, junk mail and newspapers) some common household items (pots and pans, small appliances, unremarkable furniture) and some additional items that could be valuable (jewelry, antiques, furs, art, collectibles, etc.).

We generally recommend that a personal property appraiser be hired to come in and shed some light on which items are actually valuable and what you might expect to be paid for them. This is an excellent precaution to prevent giving away or under-selling something of value; it can also provide a moment of clarity when it is discovered that the antique lamp your father prized is, in today’s market, worth only about $20.00.

Once the value of the personal property is known, you can proceed with more confidence. If there is quite a bit of valuable merchandise, an estate sale may be an efficient way of liquidating the items you and your sister don’t want. If there are only a few valuable items, you might consider consigning these pieces and donating the balance to a charity like Goodwill.

We know some very good service providers that can help with liquidation. We also offer property services that include packing up remaining personal property and transporting it to a charitable organization, performing repairs, painting, replacing light fixtures and other hardware to improve the home’s appearance, trimming landscaping, deep cleaning and otherwise preparing the house for the real estate market.

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