Driving down the road you see the sign, “Estate sale” and turn in. You’re greeted at a house with a jumble of items, a yard sale but with far better treasures all being sold off by a family who just doesn’t have any more space. Elvis records mixed in with Chopin, delightfully dated furniture needing a facelift, a thousand lace doilies, and the ubiquitous sets of dated China saved from their parents and grandparents. Some items are treasures, many are junk, and all are vintage items the family members simply don’t need any more of. After all, the family has already divided up and donated the over two-thousand quilts grandmother made during her lifetime.
What is an Estate Sale?
All joking aside, an estate sale is a way to sell off the smaller, lower value, physical assets a person gathered during their life. This is generally done after the family has had a chance to go through the assets and claim anything special they’re interested in keeping. Further, these sales do not include higher value assets such as jewelry and artwork which, if not specifically handled by the will, are likely to be divided up and distributed or sold separately by the estate’s personal representative.
The actual sale can be handled in a variety of ways. Some families elect to hire a company that specializes in estate sales to package up the items, take them to a store, and hold an estate sale from their facility. The company knows how to advertise the sale broadly and to the right people, can better value items so that valuable Elvis records are sold for closer to their fair value, and reach out to collectors and antique dealers who can compete against each other to keep prices up. The company will charge a fee for their services and likely a percentage of the sales, but it does make the entire process much easier for the family.
Of course, families can always choose to handle the sale themselves. While managing the assets of the estate is the job of the personal representative, once the accounting is finished and the estate is in the process of selling or disposing of the assets in order to raise capital, the personal representative can designate which items can be part of the estate sale and put together a yard sale, sell them online, or allow another family member to handle the sale.
Who is Responsible for an Estate Sale?
The personal representative or executor of an estate is the individual who is ultimately responsible for the distribution of an estate. Before scheduling an estate sale, they should make sure that any assets that are supposed to distribute to individuals or trusts are properly handled and accounted for. Estate sales are really a way to monetize the last remaining assets, from vintage toys long kept in an attic to water bottle collections, that have some small value but limited sentimental value.
When making an estate plan, one part of that is giving the personal representative the powers they need to monetize certain portions of the estate. This can be used to pay the final bills and taxes of the estate as well as generate some cash to hand out to beneficiaries. The team at Dunn Law Firm works regularly to help individuals with a wide variety of assets, family structures, and estate goals to set up and review estates. To learn more, reach out to the Utah and Nevada estate planning attorneys at Dunn Law Firm by calling (435) 628-5405 to set up a free consultation today.