The Nuts and Bolts of Estate Sales in New Jersey

A successful estate sale boosts distribution income for beneficiaries by providing an opportunity to sell furniture and personal possessions to others. If you are an executor, what do you need to know about estate sales?

Once used to describe the sale or liquidation of belongings after a death, the term “estate sale” or “tag sale,” now applies to any large sale of personal goods, whether after a death or just for downsizing.  But an estate sale is more than a garage sale and requires organization, accurate appraisal, and staffing to earn income for the estate.

Estate Sales

One of the services offered by New Jersey Executor is estate sales.  Our specialists are professionals with the experience to organize and stage a successful estate sale without additional emotional and financial cost to the family.  Consider these tips when you are looking for an estate sale professional—or if you are handling it on your own:

Estate Sales or Liquidator?

Once you have a realistic idea about the physical property of the estate you are handling, it is important to consider whether an estate sale is the right avenue for you.  If you are administering an estate with a full house, possibly with outbuildings (or not), accumulated goods, clothes, and furniture, an estate sale could be a good opportunity.  If the total value of possessions is two to three thousand dollars—you might consider working with a liquidator who offers you a lump sum for the lot. 

Understanding the value of the possessions and holdings of the estate is essential.  You may not have a rare painting on your hands, but an experienced estate dealer can give you an idea of the value of the physical property of the estate you are handling.  It is important to work with an estate sale company with access to experienced, accredited appraisers or evaluators.  It is not good business for estate sales handlers to pick up items from your estate for a song—appraisals and proper valuations are needed.  If you go ahead with an estate sale firm, be sure your contract requires a ledger of items and their appraised value, prior to sale.

Choosing An Estate Sale Company

Retaining a reputable estate sale company makes good sense for many reasons, including:

  • You do not have the burden to inventory, appraise, clean, organize, stage, and re-clean the house.  Many estate sale firms are full service, handling all details including advertisement of the sale, insurance bonding for the duration of the sale, and guaranteed accounting of the sale after the fact.
  • Personally handling the sale and disposal of the belongings and property of a relative or loved one can be physically and emotionally draining.
  • Using a company that specializes in estate sales makes good business sense.  You may see more value from the estate—even with the estate sale fee—than you might realize if you handled it yourself.

Why It’s Important To Educate Yourself

Educate yourself about estate sale firms before you get bids. Be sure the companies you consider are accredited, bonded professionals.  Ask for references and check them.  Ask to attend an upcoming estate sale.  Get more than one bid for your estate sale and understand the lowest bidder may not be your best bet.

Estate sale firms usually work for a percentage of the proceeds of your sale, but appraisals and other services are paid for separately.  Be sure you understand the terms of your agreement, and gain full understanding of your contract before you sign.

Your contract should include language stating the company carries workers compensation and liability insurance for the sale, outlines their staffing and theft prevention plans, covers payment and tax details, and lists the time and dates of your estate sale.

No Need To Clean

If you engage an estate sale firm, do not clean the house and dispose of objects you consider junk.  Remember that the estate sale company bases their agreement on the items in the house when they originally visit—if you remove all the furniture before the estate sale, you have removed value.

Be sure to discuss at with agents for estate sale companies the items in the house that you intend to remove, are bequests, or should not be sold with the estate sale.  Remember—what you might consider junk, could be just what an avid estate sale shopper is looking to buy.

Get A Proper Appraisal

Reputable estate sale companies can save you time, and often money, by providing referrals for the appraisal of valuable collections or items.  As executor, it is important to ensure appraisals are accurate and reflect the fair and appropriate value of objects owned by the estate.   Since estate administration services are not regulated—do your homework to ensure appraisers or evaluators are accredited, experienced, and have references

Reliable estate administration companies have the experience and professional network to efficiently, and cost-effectively, take care of what is sometimes a difficult, contentious aspect of managing an estate—the estate sale. 

When you have questions about estate sales, or need rapid, reputable help with your estate administration—talk to us today.

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