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What are your options for selling a loved one's items?

Your elderly parent or other loved one who just passed away didn't believe in downsizing and decluttering as they got older. That's left you looking at options for an estate auction to sell their property.

There are several ways to have an estate auction. Which one is best depends on how many items there are, what type of items are involved and how much money and time you have to devote to the process.

A do-it-yourself (DIY) auction or sale is the least expensive option. However, it requires time and effort to organize the items and price them. You'll also be the one managing the auction itself.

One advantage of this option is that you control the pricing. Another is that you get to keep all of the proceeds. To liquidate basic household property like furniture, pots and pans and books, this may be your best bet if you have the time and energy.

These DIY sales can be in-person (much like a yard sale) or online. Some people use sites like Craigslist or eBay to sell their loved ones' property online. While these sites let you avoid face-to-face haggling with buyers, you have the work of packing and shipping the items once they're sold.

If you want to sell everything with a minimum of time and effort, your best bet is hiring an auction company. They'll handle everything -- for a fee, of course. They may take as much as half the amount the items sell for. You trust them to price the items appropriately and handle the sales. This may be preferable if you have valuable items. However, you want a reliable company that will sell them for what they're worth.

Unlike DIY auctions, with an auction company, you don't have to store the items until they're sold. The auction company takes them off your hands -- unless you choose to work with the company on a consignment basis. That's where you bring them the items and they tell you what they will and won't accept.

Whatever method you choose, it's essential to review your loved one's will and other estate planning documents to find out if they intended to leave specific items to family, friends or charitable organizations. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you do this. They can also advise you as you decide on your best option for selling the remaining property.

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