Having a well thought out plan is important to having a successful estate sale. Here are some
preliminary steps to consider while preparing and before removing items from the estate sale location and before interviewing estate sale companies. Prepare ahead of time to save your self stress, time, and finances on your next estate sale.
Preparing by Taking Inventory
Whether your sale is due to a downsize, move, or death of a love one, these initial steps will
help protect you and enable you to document the home’s contents for heirs if necessary.
Take an inventory of the home. A thorough inventory and search of the home will begin
preparing you for an estate sale. Look for forgotten hidden items, valuables, etc. Try searching
the following areas:
• Clothing, books, drawers, cupboards, boxes and closets
• Search under and behind furniture and look behind drawers
• Investigate attics, crawlspaces and basements
Filtering Your Estate Sale
Remove any personal or sensitive items that you don’t want placed in the estate sale. If it’s
something personal or valuable that you don’t want to sell, removing or securing it is essential.
If this is an inheritance situation, there may be items the heirs have no right to including
personal records, diaries, journals, etc so make sure to secure these items. Consider financial
records and/or other personal documents as well, and develop a method for determining which
of these should be retained for record-keeping purposes. Make sure any firearms have been
safely unloaded, and then properly secured. Additional items to consider:
• Precious metals, coins, jewelry or collections
• Personal photos
• Personal documents
• Firearms or ammunition
• Food or alcohol
• All items you wish to retain
Photographing You Items
Photograph the contents. A cataloged reference, either in photo or in video format, can serve
as documentary evidence of the estate should it be necessary. Photos may also assist heirs
make quick decisions about what can be sold and what they’d like to keep. Tips for taking
• Take photos in an organized manner, ie. Furniture, Art, and China
• Upload photos to a secure network or a download to an exterior hard drive
Make a Master List of Contents
Try and stay organized and create lists if necessary. Having an estate sale can be a tall task,
there are a lot of details to consider and organization that needs be completed before having
heirs or potential estate sale companies in. Some lists may include:
• General inventory
• Items being given to heirs
• Potentially valuable items
• Important contacts – realtors, estate sale companies, contractors
• To do lists
Appraisals Ahead of Time
In preparing the house, start with some appraisals if necessary. If it’s an inheritance situation
and the personal property is being divided, you’ll need an appraisal to determine the value of
these items. Appraisals may assist when:
• Requested by an attorney, accountant, heir, the courts or probate
• There are valuable items
• Heirs are contesting
• Equitable disbursements are required
Organizing for Sales
Partially organizing and setting up the home is helpful. The more organized the home is, the
easier the heir dispersal or estate sale process will be. If you have valuables, display them so
heirs or potential estate sale companies can see them. Getting items ready:
• Remove junk or debris
• Declutter as much as possible
• Keep inventory lists
Keep it Legal
With inheritance situations, your process as an executor is clear: follow the will or trust. If there
are contesting heirs or if the will is vaguely written, alternative dispersal strategies will need to
be created. These could be as simple as a lottery, picking a number out of a hat, or the drawing
of straws to establish an order by which items can be selected. Be sure that you:
• Refer to the will, trust or other documentation
• Develop alternative strategies when there is no will or trust in place
• Set dispersal dates
Charitable Giving and Donations
Thinking about donating or giving items away? Consider having an appraiser evaluate the
items for their values first. This will help avoid costly mistakes. You don’t want to give away
items to later find out that they were worth a small fortune.
All the little things found in a home that usually get tossed or donated are sometimes appealing
to estate sale shoppers who are willing buyers of a wide variety of items. They’ll buy the stuff
you think has no value; or think you are better off throwing away.
The dollar value of the many small, seemingly inconsequential items that every house contains
has the potential of creating thousands of dollars of income, so it’s best to let the Estate Pros
sell items on behalf of your estate. Resist the temptation to randomly give away items to
neighbors or distant relatives before you have had a chance to consult with the Estate Pros. If
you keep too much or give too much away, you risk the possibility of not having enough to
have an estate sale.
These lower valued items are sold every weekend at estate sales across the country. Here’s
just a few examples:
• Kitchen items
• Damaged jewelry
• Old stereo equipment
• Old newspapers, etc
• Record albums
• Cleaning supplies
• Craft supplies
• Outdoor / Garden items
• Bedding & linens
• Office supplies, etc.
Don’t throw anything away! Most estate sales will have items of smaller value offered for sale
right alongside the big ticket items. Variety is the spice of life!
Keep vs Sell
Know what you want to sell. Clearly identifying the scope of your project to the Estate Pros will
make the estate sale process a lot smoother and without confusion. This process is easier if
the items you and your family want to keep have been entirely removed from the home.
However, if you can’t remove these items take a little time and mark those items “Not For Sale”
with a post-it note, etc so we know those items are off limits and not to be sold.
If you have had appraisals completed for any of your items, let the Estate Pros know, we can
assess these evaluations for accuracy and use them to determine potential final sale prices.
Following this guide can help you properly prepare an estate for a sale. You’ll be able to
maximize the profits of the sale while eliminating confusion, following the wishes of the heirs,
and the instructions left in the will. When you work with the Estate Pros, we will help answer
your questions and guide you through the process of preparing an estate for a successful sale.
Our experts can assist in all phases of your personal preparation while you get ready, just ask
us for details on how we can help!
Thinking about having an Estate Sale? Contact the Pros!!! If you are looking for help in running an Estate Sale feel free to contact us. We’d love to help!