For items the family agrees to sell, the first step may be to hire an appraiser to go through the entire house (called a ‘look-see’) to tell you which pieces may be valuable and could be sold at auction. If the entire contents of the house are to be sold, Hetzer suggests an estate sale. For individual items, there are online auctions, resale shops, and yard sales.

Avoid a power struggle by allowing the people who lived in the home to be in charge. However, some moves are made in stressful times such as due to a serious illness or after a death in the family. In those cases, the decision-making will have to shift to others. Most importantly, make sure that no one rushes the process or leaves out people who should be involved. If a family member has passed, there are also legal issues that will control when you can remove items from the house.

This is a task that no one enjoys-OK, there may be a few neatniks out there who can’t wait to recycle Grandpa’s beer can collection-but most of us approach this with anxiety and trepidation. Help yourself and other family members by working as a team.

Families can make this process fun and memorable, the article says, by taking their time. “If you can build in the time for family members to reminisce and just enjoy being together, as well as going through what can be a pretty tedious task, it actually can be fun.”

Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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