If you are in the position of needing to hire an estate sale company there are two key things you must do.
First: Go through the estate and take out everything you want to keep from furniture and knick knacks to pictures and documents. Do a thorough job of this. Call cousins, aunts, uncles, and long-lost relatives. Heck, call your ex if need be. Just make sure to remove from the house everything the family wants to keep.
Second (and most importantly): Hand the keys to the estate sale company and walk away.
If you’ve hired a company worth their salt this will be possible. You are not paying them to just liquidate the estate and get you the most out of it financially, you are paying them for peace of mind and the ability to take the burden of the estate off your plate.
It’s for your own good. Really.
I’ve had estates in which the family didn’t walk away. It’s traumatic for the family and (please don’t be offended) it’s pencil-to-the-eyes frustrating for us. (Think mother-in-law advising you on how to raise your kids level of frustration.)
Why should I walk away? I mean, it’s my family’s stuff, right? Shouldn’t I guide the process, give input, and monitor the goings on?
I said, no.
There is no nice way to say this, so I’ll just lay it out there:
You don’t want to see what we are going to do to your loved one’s house and the items in it. Period.
Witnessing the mass chaos that will temporarily ensue is tantamount to watching your own surgery. And have you ever watched, saaay…a knee surgery? Thanks to some ghoulish knuckleheads and the miracle of YouTube (and if you’ve got 30 minutes you don’t mind losing) you can gawk at the carnage that animates most operating rooms.
Knee replacement surgery is one of the many modern medical miracles that I’m probably going to be the beneficiary of one day. But that doesn’t mean I want to watch. Trust me, anesthesia isn’t administered just so you won’t feel pain. They give you the mask of happiness with a narcotic chaser in your IV for the sole purpose of rendering you oblivious to the sawing, pounding, and Guns and Roses screeching in the background. Your knocked unconscious so they can filet you and do their job with unapologetic ferocity (aka, a ball peen hammer). It’s how things like knee surgery get done.
After you’re finished being the unwitting victim of some pretty heinous violence (on your behalf, mind you), the doc will walk into your recovery room all grins while he tells you it went swimmingly. And you giggle and grin back and wax with eloquent gratefulness. (Actually, the drug-on-demand controlled by the button the nurse taped to your hand is really doing the talking for you. After they take it away in a few days you’ll feel vaguely violated, more than a little sore, and wondering why Welcome to the Jungle keeps running through your head.)
My point (yes, I have one) is that we in the estate business are a bit like those over zealous docs in the OR. We’ve got a job to do and, trust me, you don’t want to be there when we do it.
For starters, we are going to
filet go through every nook and cranny of the estate as we sort and organize. If there are any secrets left behind, we’ll find them. (Don’t worry, I used to be a bartender so I’m good at keeping things on the down-low.)
The house will, at times, look like it was the location of a week long frat party. The fact of the matter is, we trash houses as we work in order to make them look fabulous for the sale.
Your loved one’s furniture will have impersonal price tags on them. (And you’ll think the price isn’t nearly high enough, but it is.)
There will be things you think are precious that stand a good chance of ending up in the trash bin.
In short, we will rummage, rearrange, and toss the estate unapologetically and unemotionally. Having you walk in and cry over grandpa’s tools in the garage doesn’t help either of us. That is why we stress the importance of walking away. Besides, odds are you’ve probably got more than enough to deal with already. Let us be the heavy on this one.
If I’m coming across as having a less than stellar bedside manner, my apologies. I’m a specialist, and we all know how aloof and impersonal specialists can be, right?
But be assured, the detachment on our part is necessary. Just like the surgeon won’t be doing you any favors if he winces and cringes every time he relentlessly slams the hammer down so that shiny new joint gets securely lodged into your bone, we can’t get emotional over your loved one’s things.
So, now that you’ve been given a glimpse into the equivalent of an estate sale OR, you can trust me when I say you don’t need to watch to be pleased with the outcome. We love what we do, we are very good at doing it, but, like surgery, an audience is not advised.