The Minefield of Planning for “Stuff ” — Part Three
In this third and final segment, I will offer tips on how to actually dispose of the “stuff” that parents and loved ones may leave behind.
It can be surprising and even shocking when children realize how much effort it takes to deal with the personal property a parent leaves behind. When faced with a large amount of personal property, the prospect of selling it, dividing it among sometimes contentious family members, or simply getting an account of it, can be overwhelming. Here are some option to help you more easily and quickly dispose of the remaining personal items.
Contact an appraiser
Wills and trusts may not specifically address who gets personal effects — household furnishings, jewelry, artwork, collectibles, family photos, and so on. If not, then the “residue” provisions will apply, which often direct the division of an estate into equal shares for children. Or personal effects may be left to children or grandchildren in “equal shares”.
How do you divide things up into equal shares when the items are all of differing values? What do you do with items that have more value or function when kept together rather than separated? To start, you must know the values of the items involved. A professional appraiser can tell you what the market will bring for these items. Then you can implement the suggestions discussed in Part Two of this series. You may also need to know the values for applicable state or federal estate tax returns, for a probate estate filing, or to comply with specific provisions in the will or trust.
Contact an estate liquidator.
If the thought of going through a big home and emptying it of its contents on your own fills you with dread, you can hire an estate liquidator to take on the task for you. Estate liquidation companies will organize the estate sale, sell the unwanted items for you, and dispose of any remaining property as you direct. Sometimes the company will also provide appraisal services.
Estate liquidation can involve an estate auction, see below, or a “tag sale” where items are tagged with prices and shoppers can make purchases or negotiate for bargains. But note that liquidators may have minimums that must be met, or it may not be worth their effort.
Auction valuable items.
While estate liquidators are a good choice for disposing of a large number of items, auctioneers may be better suited for disposing of those items that are particularly valuable. If you need assistance in deciding what you should or shouldn’t auction, your appraiser or auctioneer can evaluate the potential worth of the items in the home.
Give to Charity
This is often considered an option because it is perceived to be easy and provides a tax break. But caution – charities are becoming selective in what they will accept. Call around and investigate. Also, there is no income tax charitable deduction to the estate for giving to charity. Instead, give the items to the heirs who can then take a charitable income tax deduction.
Hire a senior-move manager.
An increasingly popular option is to use a senior-move manager or a professional organizer. Senior-move managers specialize in transferring all the property that seniors leave behind. They know how to employ movers, resellers, charities, and auctioneers to perform the task