After the passing of a loved one, cleaning out and selling their possessions can be an arduous task, however it may be necessary to pay the estate’s debts or split assets with other family members. An estate sales professional can arrange for these sales and auctions, declutter and clean, and schedule viewings with collectors. Hiring an estate sales company removes the burdensome responsibility.
Although processes can vary between companies, many follow the same guidelines. An initial consultation fee is usually free and gives the company a chance to see how they want to approach selling the items to potential buyers as well as advertising for the sale. Companies, like Heirloom Appraisal and Estate Services, physically inspect and photograph the items, while noting the dimensions and other measurements. Once they have conducted the proper research, the company will deliver a report to you. The estate sales company will take care of cleaning and arranging the items to appeal to buyers and collectors. The sale can last from one to three days, although large estate sales may last a week or two. Throughout the process, you and your family attorney (or the executor of the will) are updated with itemized receipts and accounting reports.
At the end of the sale, the remaining items can be donated to charity organizations in your loved one’s name. Ask the estate sales company if they keep a list of organizations. You can count the donations as a tax deduction.
In most cases, the company does not receive any money upfront. These professionals rely on commission-based fees. The average commission rate is 10 to 25 percent, but you can expect to pay 30 to 35 percent of the total sales with large estates, estates in metropolitan areas, or estates requiring heavy cleaning. Some companies also charge an additional fee for expert appraisers.
Ask the company you are interviewing if they are a full-service company and if those services are included in the commission rate. You may save in the long run by using a full-service company and paying a higher rate since those appraised items may yield a higher return.
Ask your friends, family, and neighbors for referrals for estate sales companies local to you they have used in the past. Your attorney or the executioner of the will may also have a specific company they have a relationship with you can use. You can find listings online on directory websites that specialize in senior care and senior living.
The Better Business Bureau for Wisconsin has listings with ratings and reviews for estate sales and auctions. The website currently displays three companies within 50 miles of Madison. You can also use the databases found on the American Society of Appraisers or the International Society of Appraisers websites. These search tools help you locate certified appraisers in your area.
Always ask any company you are considering for references and follow-up with these former customers before handing your loved one’s possessions to the estate sales service. Your family attorney can assist you in deciphering any contracts the estate sales company asks you to sign.
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