A lot of questions can arise when one rather suddenly finds himself or herself faced with being responsible for disposing of the household contents for a deceased relative or friend of the family. It can be especially challenging when the responsible individual is still processing the emotional loss of a loved one.
It is said that hindsight is 20/20, and it is unfortunate a person often comes to that realization much later -- sometimes after many mistakes were made. Well, we are all human and we all make mistakes. One time a friend reminded me that our mistakes make up our membership card to the human race.
With foresight and some good advanced planning, one can significantly reduce the number of mistakes one is likely to make when faced with selling household contents for another person. Of course, finding out what the legal implications are and taking the necessary steps to deal with them early on is a good starting point.
Also, making sure the property is secure during the time you are responsible for it needs to be given immediate attention.
Acquiring an accurate inventory of what is in the house is important. Knowing what is there and the approximate value of those items will assist you in developing your plan for how best to advertise and market those items.
Sometimes the person responsible for selling the household has a reasonable knowledge of the items's current values. He or she might have a good friend who assists in finding a trustworthy auctioneer, appraiser, etc.
Sometimes even knowing the value of various old items a person has stored in the garage for many years can be more important than one often realizes.
A couple of years ago, I received a call from the manager of a large business firm in Hays. He asked me when I would be in town next as he wanted to clean out his old garage but didn't want to throw away anything that might be worth several dollars. We set a time and date that I could come to his house.
When I arrived, he had already set out a couple of rows of miscellaneous items in front of his garage. While walking along looking at the items, I saw that many of the items were plain and simple junk, a couple of the items were lower quality cast-iron reproductions, and there were many ordinary things that had little, if any monetary value. Then, this old, dirty kerosene lantern (circa 1935) caught my eye. Although the bottom part of it has been replaced many years past (possibly about 40 to 50 years ago) the unusual, colored globe was in excellent shape and had some rare, embossed advertising words on it.
When I told him that his old lantern was valuable, he said if anyone would give him $100 or more for that old lantern, he would gladly get rid of it. I highly encouraged him to move the old lantern into the basement of the house for better security while I researched it for him. He did take it into his house.
To make a long story short, I called a specialty lantern collector in Denver and that collector drove to Hays and paid the man more than $2,000 cash for his lantern.
Knowing what you have and who values the specific items you have can be quite surprising.
Marvin Mann, Plainville, is an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers. Send questions to him in care of The Hays Daily News, P.O. Box 857, Hays KS 67601.