How to hire the right estate cleaning service

boxes packed for an estate clearing and move with unpacking after the move

When faced with the departure of a loved one, there is a period of acceptance. During this period, you want the transition to be less stressful and emotionally hard on the rest of the family. However, there are certain legal and financial matters you have to take care of. One of those matters is the obligation to clear the home of the deceased. In such a case, the less emotionally involved you are, the better. If you want to make this transition as painless as possible, opt for estate clearing services that can do the job professionally, with no strings attached. If you think this is the best choice for you but wonder how to hire the right estate cleaning service, we can help with a few valuable tips.

Clearing house estates is a complex process

If you think about the number of things people acquire during a lifetime, you might feel a little bit overwhelmed having to clear the house of all those possessions. Before even deciding to hire professionals, you have to understand the process. Estate clearing should involve a whole team of people who are assigned to different tasks to do a successful job. Sorting through all the personal belongings, making home inventories, packing, transporting, and shipping items are a few of them. There has to be excellent communication between the estate clearing service provider and the client for a complete clear-out. The clients are the ones who ultimately decide on the level of involvement, and the professionals are there to make the process as straightforward as possible.

A proper estate cleaning service can ready a home for sales as part of the estate settlement

Before you can sell the house or apartment, you need to clear it from all personal belongings

Benefits of hiring estate cleaning professionals

One of the advantages of choosing estate cleanout services to assist you is to emotionally detach yourself from the situation. In most cases, people opt for cleanout services after losing an elderly member of the family. Many choose not to get too emotionally involved with the personal belongings left after the person has passed. And with good reason. If you are emotionally involved, you might lose focus and make fewer objective decisions on what to keep, what to donate, and what to sell. As a result, you might find yourself taking not only the family albums and heirlooms but items that don’t even have a sentimental value.

a messy garage means that declutter is needed

Having professional assistance in clearing heavily cluttered rooms is essential

 

In all that clutter, you might feel more stressed than you expected. So, invest some time in finding ways to remove stress from household junk removal.  One of the ways is undoubtedly giving the job to trained professionals who don’t have an emotional bond with the things they need to clear. They will go through the possessions, sort unwanted items, items for donations, items for recycling, something to sell, and things to dispose of. If needed, they will consult with you on valuables and family heirlooms they find, but otherwise will do a quick and efficient home clearing operation, leaving you more time for healing and spending time with your loved ones.

Wondering how to hire the right estate cleaning service is perfectly normal

You might be having trouble deciding on a particular estate clearing service team to partner with, given all the emotional distress you are experiencing. The best way to look for the right people is through word of mouth. If some of your friends, colleagues, or neighbors had the assistance of a reliable and reputable team, be sure to ask them for a referral. You can also search the web for positive reviews and testimonials of satisfied clients. Reading personal stories from people who were once in your situation might seem like something you don’t want to do. However, it may prove to be helpful to get a clear picture of what to expect and what to seek from professional cleanout services. After all, you will be hiring someone to take care of your loved one’s personal belongings, so investing some time in finding the right company for the job is something you ought to do.

Prepare before hiring estate cleaners

To have a successful clearing estate experience, you have to prepare. A good starting point is to go through the documents first. Sort out any legal documents you need to keep and move along to valuable items and items that have sentimental value. When you have acquired all the belongings you deem useful and want to keep, look for a good storage provider where you will keep them. Then, you can locate things you would like to sell and set those aside as well. Pack some of the items you want to keep or sell and transport them to safe storage. Label each box and make sure all boxes are properly sealed. Once in storage, your belongings will be secure and easily reachable if and when you decide to act on your decision to sell or use.

packing and unpacking is an important task of estate clearing with clearly mark boxes to identify content

Once you are sure on how to hire the right cleaning estate service, you can begin the preparations

After you have gone through things you want to keep or sell, you can call estate clearing services and acquire a quote. State the rooms you want to clear and give the estate cleaning service team precise instructions on what to do with the rest of the items. You don’t have to have all the answers. These trained professionals who deal with decluttering and organizing every day will undoubtedly suggest how to deal with electronics, recyclable items, unwanted furniture, and similar.

Time to make the decision

When you feel confident that you know how to hire the right estate cleaning service, you should do it. Use the time to spend with your family and friends, and leave all the daunting tasks to trained specialists. Don’t hesitate to acquire the needed assistance because clearing another person’s house can be more than you can handle. However, if you still feel reluctant to let strangers in your loved one’s house, you can research ways to make the job less stressful for yourself.

 

Photos used:
https://www.pexels.com/photo/empty-apartment-with-packed-carton-boxes-before-moving-4246119/
https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-realtor-putting-up-a-sale-pending-signboard-8292779/
https://unsplash.com/photos/onnJOfF-okU
https://www.pexels.com/photo/crop-man-taping-carrying-box-with-scotch-4246120/

My Kids Don’t Want It- Now What?
Estate Settlement: Tangible Personal Property

By: Regina Lark, Sheri Samotin, Noelle Valentino

When downsizing, there are many precious items that need to be organized with great care

There are many challenges to dismantling an estate – from recovering important documents and hopefully avoiding probate, to deciding what to do with elegant (but worthless) tchotchkes and table linens. The size and scope of some projects can be daunting, even for the most dedicated of adult children, who likely have too much stuff in their own homes to tackle the clear-out of their parents’ household. There are so many moving parts, and often requires a team of experienced, dedicated professionals who work together to settle the estate and get the home ready for sale. An estate attorney, a realtor, and a good handyperson ought to be part of the team. 

Dealing with the contents of the property is a different matter. Three professionals: a private fiduciary, an appraiser/valuator of tangible personal property, and a company that specializes in de-cluttering and downsizing, walk us a through their process to dismantle an estate, and the considerations that must be made when helping a family going through this process. 

How to Get Started: Build Your Team

Sheri Samotin, Private Professional Fiduciary, LifeBridge Solutions

One of the most frequent comments I hear in my first conversation with a prospective client is, “I’m overwhelmed.” If the prospect is the family member indecluttering and organizing means that everything will be put into a proper place and can be easily found. charge of administering a trust or estate, they have many unfamiliar tasks to handle. Sometimes, I am my ownDocuments need to be organized professionally uasing a checklist to insure all are in place “client” if I am serving as a designated trustee or administrator. I must make the magic happen regarding clearing and distributing the personal property in accordance with the trust and/or will.

After I have reviewed the relevant documents, it’s time to lay out my strategy. Typically, the first step is to go through the home to locate any valuable items that could “grow feet” and disappear. Those items need to be secured. In addition, we search every nook and cranny for any papers that might be needed to support prior tax returns or to help us file a return. In one recent case, we

thought the decedent was a single man. In fact, when going through his papers, we learned that he had been briefly married as a young man and that the marriage was annulled. Sometimes we are looking for information related to the “family tree” to make sure everyone who is legally entitled to notice receives it. At the same time we are going through the paper, we make “shred” bags for documents that don’t need to be saved but require proper disposal.

Once the paper monster has been tamed, it is time to get an idea of the value of the personal property. 

Valuing Tangible Personal Property, Appraisal and Disposition at Auction

Noelle Valentino, Fine and decorative arts specialist; household contents appraiser, John Moran Auctioneers & Appraisals

More often than not, the bulk of the value of an estate’s tangible personal property can be found in just a handful of items. It is important to engage a specialist early in the process to identify the items of significance before they are claimed by relatives, given away, donated, or worse. A qualified tangible appraiser will produce an inventory of household contents, or a formal appraisal report, depending on the needs of the estate. The intended use of the document must be disclosed in the report: equitable distribution, charitable donation, estate tax filing, or something else. 

A Clear Path can coordinate the valuation and selling of collections as part of their organizing serviceFor IRS purposes, estates approaching the exemption limit will require a household contents appraisal. The IRS defines art broadly: jewelry, paintings, silver, rugs, decorative objects and more. Outside of tax regulation, there are often issues that arise due to family reasons and an estate appraisal may be recommended to avoid later conflict. For the purposes of distribution among beneficiaries, it is helpful to discuss a minimum value threshold with the appraiser. A fair market value of several hundred dollars is often a good starting point for an object’s inclusion in the report.

Appraisals are considered legal documents and can be relied upon by an attorney, the court, or the IRS. Selecting a personal property appraiser who is USPAP compliant, with membership in one of the three preeminent appraisal organizations, is imperative. Qualified appraisers in your area can be located on the websites of the Appraisers Association of America, International Society of Appraisers, or American Society of Appraisers.  

When considering the eventual disposition of assets from an estate, an auction house can also be helpful in identifying the items of greatest value in the home. With the intent to secure new consignments, they will provide free auction estimates. With that said, auction houses are likely to include only the items valued over $1,000 and appealing for bidders in today’s market. Note well that an auction estimate does not take the place of an appraisal. It is however, an advisable sale venue for estate property due to its the broad reach and rapid mode of sale, together ensuring fair market value has been achieved.

When the ‘good stuff’ is gone… Now what? 

Regina F. Lark, Ph.D., downsizing and organizational specialist, A Clear Path, LLC

The typical household contains thousands of pieces of tangible personal property. Every room has stuff – some rooms have more stuff than other rooms. Drawers and cupboard and closets are filled with flatware, dishes and clothes. Even if considerable downsizing had already happened, there’s no getting around this fact: we all have to deal with our clients’ stuff.  

To get the job done in an efficient and timely way, look for a professional organizing/downsizing company with access to a broad range of resources to complete the dismantling of an estate. Find out what they know, and who they know, when you ask these questions: 

  • What does your business liability cover? 
  • Do you have a project management fee? 
  • Are you able to ship items across, or out of, the country? 
  • Have you encountered a hoarding situation? If so, how do you handle the massive volume of ‘stuff?’
  • Do you have the ability to sell what the auction house doesn’t want? 

After the auction house reviews and removes what I call the “big ticket” items, the remainder of the household contents can be photographed (to attach to donation receipt), packed-up, and hauled to the nearest non-profit. If removal is all that’s required, a good downsizing company can have the estate cleared and ready for the realtor to put on the market.

Another option is working with a traditional estate sale company. They usually spend two weeks tagging everything in the house, around the yard, and in every kitchen drawer.  Many estate sale companies charge a percentage of the sale’s gross profits. For example, if the company charges 40% of gross profits and the sale yields $10,000 then you will owe the company $4,000. Be sure to ask about any additional services such as trash removal, post-sale clean-up, etc. If the estate is thick with clutter, does the estate sale company address that, too? 

Over the past couples of years, online estate sale auctions have become wildly popular, and MaxSold, a Canadian company with a robust platform, has generated a large footprint in the United States. The concept is simple – an organizing team catalogs every item in the house into what are known as “lots,” distinct groupings of one or more items sold at auction– creating lots of lots! The sale is live online for 7-10 days and every lot begins at $1 (yes, one dollar). The bidding is particularly fast and furious on the final day of bidding. The ultimate split is 70% to the estate and 30% to Max Sold. If a fiduciary hires a team of professionals to dismantle an estate, it will likely come close, break-even, or make money on the sale of the remaining tangible personal property, and quite often, offset the cost of their service.

Conclusion: 

Due diligence regarding the estate’s personal property is an important aspect of fiduciary duties. Sentiments tend to run high when it comes to the “stuff.” Suspend bias and remain objective with assets you are unfamiliar with, calling in experts where appropriate. Moreover, encouraging your clients to update their estate plans ahead of time, including a review of existing appraisals with personal property assets, as this can prevent later confusion. Proactive steps in identifying items of value and having a working plan for the disposition of tangible personal property can mitigate the risks and avoid family conflict, or a professional headache.

Using a Checklist before downsizing will create an easier less stressful move