Estate sales have become big business as aging Americans decide that they’d rather let someone else handle the details, according to the Detroit Free Press article, "Estate sales boom with aging demographics."
What is an estate sale? It is an auction where one’s household belongings are put up for sale. They are popular for buyers because estate sales often contain older, valuable possessions that can be purchased at a discount. In fact, some people even make a living out of buying items at estate sales and selling them for retail prices elsewhere, such as their own shops or on eBay.
As a result, there appears to be two groups of “sellers” who might consider having an estate sale. The first group are people who have inherited the estate. Typically, a group of siblings will inherit the house and the possessions of their parents, but rather than going through everything themselves, the siblings hire professionals to go through the house and auction off what can be sold for profit. This is an excellent way to dispose of an estate because it can prevent any fighting over who gets what. Estate administrators who fear that heirs may fight over possessions should consider an estate sale.
The second group are the elderly owners of the property themselves. Many older people are now choosing to sell their possessions in what might more accurately be called “pre-estate” sales in an effort to downsize before they move into assisted living facilities. This is also one way to prevent potential conflict. If personal property is sold early, then there is potentially less for heirs to fight over at the time of death.
Contact an experienced estate planning attorney who can help arrange the estate sale process and identify the best estate sale professionals for your situation. While you are at it, get your estate plan created or updated to ensure your wishes are clearly communicated to your heirs.
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Reference: Detroit Free Press (September 6, 2015) "Estate sales boom with aging demographics."