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What exactly can your heirs do with all of your unwanted stuff? – II

In our previous post, we discussed how even though people take care to earmark certain belongings for friends and family members via estate planning mechanisms like simple wills or revocable living trusts, there’s still a good chance that a fair amount of their “stuff” will be left where it’s sitting after their passing.

We also discussed how loved ones confronted with a house full of unwanted, but not necessarily valueless, possessions can turn to professionals — appraisers, auction houses, cleanout companies, etc. — but should nevertheless take care to map out a strategy ahead of time in order to ensure an effective and efficient estate liquidation.

According to both legal experts and financial planners, one of the first steps that loved ones will want to consider as part of their strategy is retaining the services of an appraiser who can definitively establish what remaining property merits special treatment.

They caution, however, that when hiring an appraiser, it’s important to ensure that the person in question is a member of one of the following three professional associations — the Appraisers Association of America, International Society of Appraisers, and American Society of Appraisers — as membership means they adheres to both the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice and a code of ethics.

Another vital consideration to keep in mind when hiring a particular appraiser, say legal experts and financial planners, is that they typically provide a cost estimate, and charge either a flat fee, or more commonly, an hourly fee. Indeed, they warn loved ones against hiring an appraiser who seeks a percentage of the appraised value, as this constitutes a clear conflict of interest.

After the appraiser has finished going through the personal property of the deceased, their loved ones can feel confident moving forward with the next step in the process, general property disposition, as they know that nothing of hidden value will be inadvertently sold.

We’ll continue this discussion in a future post, discussing more about what the general property disposition process entails.

If you would like to learn more about probate and estate administration matters, or your estate planning options in general, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can answer your questions and explain the law.

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