In between the death and the estate sale are “the feet”. That’s the way Mary Ann Yates, president of Elder Moves, Inc., describes one of the special functions she and her team have performed in the estate settlement process over the past thirty years.
“An estate sale is a way of liquidating the belongings of a person who has died,” estatesales.net explains. “The public is invited into the home and given the opportunity to purchase any item priced for sale.” More often than not, however, there is a lot of work that must be done before estate possessions can be put up for sale to the public, the Elder Moves founder cautions, and that is precisely why her team gets hired by any of the following:
- The estate planning attorney
- A trust officer
- A court-appointed executor
- An individual who has Power of Attorney for the diseased
Yates sorts the myriad tasks to be completed before the estate sale into two main categories: “finding” and ”cleaning”. Adult children who live out of town and even busy attorneys may have trouble handling either or both these aspects of the painstaking process and need the Elder Moves team to serve as their “feet”.
Certain items may have been designated in the person’s will or trust to go to specific heirs or specific charitable organizations, and those items need to be located. It’s not uncommon for elders suffering from dementia to hide cash or jewelry under a mattress, in a shoebox, or even in a crack in the wall, Yates explains. One “surprise find” for the Elder Moves team several years ago was 25 rolls of gold coins, each valued at $1,200. “Found” items sometimes include insurance policies or even property deeds of which even the attorney had been unaware.
The ElderMoves team remains on the property to clean and organize, Yates is quick to reassure clients, prepared for any contingency. Critter control or an exterminator may need to be called to rid the home of raccoons or insect infestation, and pets may have been left at home when the now deceased person was taken to the hospital. Once all these emergencies have been dealt with, scrubbing and polishing become part of the painstaking process preceding the sale of the furnishings or of the property itself.
“Some people sort through all the stuff and handle the sales themselves, a process made easier by the Internet,” bankrate.com notes, referring to estate sales. As Indiana estate planning attorneys, we encourage our clients to create specific instructions for the distribution ofpersonal property andto provide instructions for dealing with digital assets and with pets.
Whoever does the work, there’s work to be done before estate possessions can be put up for sale to the public. It’s simply unavoidable – between the death and the estate sale are “the feet”!
by Ronnie of the Rebecca W. Geyer blog team