Estate Selling Made Easy
It’s the worst possible time to have a gigantic project fall into your lap.
If you’re the executor of the estate of a person who has just passed away, you probably got that job because you were close to that person … or at very least, you have history together. When that person passes away, the emotional impact ranges from complicated to devastating.
The last thing you want is to be told “By the way, the deceased left a whole house full of junk, some of which could be priceless antique, some of which the family will hate you forever if you give it away. It’s up to you to sell it, distribute it, or trash it before the house gets sold. By the way, the house needs to be sold and that’s your job too.”
Like we said, the worst timing ever. But that is exactly your job as the executor of the estate. Money never sleeps, and it certainly doesn’t take time to grieve. You have to figure out some way to liquidate the estate … preferably one that doesn’t leave a lot of money on the table while you’re busy in mourning.
Collectors Coins & Jewelry is here to help. We operate five stores in New York (Lynbrook, Huntington, Baldwin, Smithtown, Massapequa Park) and one in New Jersey (Old Bridge). A big part of what we do is help people liquidate personal property from an estate, particularly items of value like jewelry, watches, coins, gemstones, and precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum.
We wouldn’t get so much of this kind of business if we didn’t make fair offers and shoot straight. We’ve helped hundreds of people through the difficult process of liquidating an estate and distilled a few rules of the road and tricks of the trade along the way. Here is Collectors Coins & Jewelry’s guide to estate selling made easy.
Give the Family a Chance to Take Keepsakes
A passing can be a challenging time for the whole family. Many relatives have fond memories attached to certain trinkets or knick knacks around the decedent’s home. If you trash or sell it all without giving relatives a chance to claim keepsakes of the decedent, you risk permanent bad blood between you and cherished family members. People have long memories for those kinds of perceived slights.
As the executor, it is your job to rally the troops. Use phone trees, social media, invitation cards, group texts, mass emails, or whatever communication method suits your family best; get the word out of a specific date or weekend that the house will be open for loved ones to browse for mementos. Don’t bend over backwards for people who want to say “Oh, I’m busy that weekend. Can I come next week?” They don’t get to pick the date of the funeral. A death in the family is a major event, and as executor your time is valuable. If they miss the keepsake window, that’s on them.
It’s also preferable to have everyone browsing at the same time because two people may want—and feel entitled to—the same keepsake. A unified “estate” day for the family is a chance to settle disputes before they fester into grudges.
Consider Hiring an Appraiser
Decedents, especially elderly ones, tend to leave behind full houses. People accumulate a lot of junk over a lifetime, and some of it is just that … junk.
But what about the one coin or baseball card in the collection that turns out to be priceless? Records or books that turn out to be first editions? Framed pictures that turn out to be lost Masters? Furniture that winds up being mahogany treasures? You don’t want to let that go for a song. You may not even want a cousin to take it as a keepsake! Other heirs may be entitled to the cash value of that property.
If you suspect there might be items of value hiding among the detritus, consider hiring a professional appraiser to walk the estate. Even if you discover no lost Rembrandts, it helps you know how much you might gross from an estate sale, as well as white items to bring to a resale store like Collectors Coins & Jewelry.
When to Hold an Estate Sale
Estate sales can be a good way to liquidate a cluttered estate … but easy is the wrong word. While you at least don’t have to move anything out of the house, there is an art and a science to running a smooth, profitable, secure estate sale without getting robbed blind.
Most bereaved executors choose to hire a professional estate sale manager. These professionals can take a lot of the logistical burden off running a successful estate sale … but they don’t do it for free. They usually take a substantial cut of the proceeds, anywhere from a quarter to a third of the gross sales receipts.
Not everything sells well at an estate sale, and not everything belongs on the sale tables of an estate sale. People go to estate sales to find good deals on durable items like tools, vintage clothing, furniture, costume jewelry, and wall art by unknown artists. And by good deals, we mean “pennies on the dollar.”
You don’t want jewelry, coins, watches, gold and silver, or antiques of any kind of value on the table at an estate sale. Chances are they will sell for far less than they are worth, which shortchanges heirs counting on their share of the estate cash.
What to Bring to Collectors Coins & Jewelry
Collector Coins & Jewelry recommends keeping as much jewelry, coinage, and potentially valuable trinkets off of the estate sale table. Estate sale patrons have no problem offering $5 on a ring that should net you $200 … and a bereaved executor or lazy estate sale manager might just take it.
Instead, box it all up and bring it to Lynbrook, Old Bridge, or one of our other shops to be assessed. There’s no need to sort it. We make fair offers on bulk estate collections, including gold, silver, gemstones, watches, jewelry, and coins. We’ll sort out the Buffalo pennies from the regular pennies.
Get an independent appraisal of the gold, jewelry and coins if you want peace of mind. However, unless it turns out grandma was hiding the Hope Diamond in the attic, the cost of an appraisal is not justified for most estates’ collections of coins and jewelry. If you have questions about particular items you think might be of extra value, we are more than happy to explain our offer and justify it with documentation.
Selling the House
Once everything is sold or trashed out, it’s time to sell the house. Most executors hire a REALTOR. If you don’t want to bother fixing up the house for top dollar, find a REALTOR who works with investors who buy houses “as-is” for all cash.
Some estate sale liquidator companies are REALTORs or investors. They may offer you a below-average commission on the estate sale liquidation service, and that could be very attractive. Beware, however, of overpaying on the back end, in the form of high REALTOR commissions or a lowball purchase offer.
Selling an estate is a big responsibility that comes at an emotionally taxing time … but there are ways to make it easier. Call or visit Collectors Coins & Jewelry any time—we are available to answer any questions you might have about how to make the estate liquidation process as painless as possible.