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Six Ways to Get Rid of Your Parents’ Stuff

Six Ways to Get Rid of Your Parents’ Stuff

Managing a parents’ estate is not fun. It ranks right up there with a colonoscopy and doing your own taxes. Regardless of whether you are left with things because your parents have moved into senior living or because they have passed on, getting rid of your parents’ stuff is tough.  There are so many emotions involved with the process. The #1 emotion is GUILT thinking you have to keep things because it was their things. I have no doubt most parents in whatever afterlife you believe in want their children to have a life of their own which may not include the parents’ stuff. And it is, just stuff. 

There are several ways to manage the stuff. One way is just to put it into storage and not deal with it. I know families who have done just that. In addition, others may just leave it in the house, putting off the inevitable until years go by and the stuff deteriorates along with the house.  As I work with friends and families going through estate management, each family eventually determines the method to find new homes for the stuff. Once you decide what to keep and what to move on, there are fat least six ways to move things on.

Six Ways to Get Rid of Your Parents’ Stuff

Estate Management Services  – You might say this is obvious but some families really don’t want John Q public sifting through their parents’ things. Most estate services manage the sorting, pricing and selling aspects of the estate and then take a percentage of sales. I have some friends who offer a great service to families needing full-service estate management. They purchase the house “as is” with all belongings the family leaves behind. The service then sorts, sells and donates items in preparation for remodeling the house to sell. The children do not have to do a thing except take what they want as personal mementos. Done.

Garage Sale – Many families, for whatever reasons, who do not want to share the estate profit with an estate management service will sell the personal items themselves. Family members have to weigh the benefit of an estate management service turn-key operation to personally setting up, pricing and selling the items in a garage, tag, or self-managed estate sale. I garage sale every weekend and having been through estate management, it breaks my heart to see family members trying to sell their family items, and many times are just pricing things too high or showing emotion when things go to new homes.

eBay –  I love eBay but I would not recommend this as an only choice for managing all estate items. I would use eBay as a mechanism to sell items that may have a higher market value and to reach a larger audience than a regular estate sale.  Do your research in regards to pricing as an auction or “buy it now” as well as research shipping.

Craiglist – This is a super free service in most metropolitan areas.  For safety reasons, some experts do suggest you meeting a buyer in a public place to make the exchange. I have not had a problem but it could happen. Occasionally a “bottom feeder” will offer a ridiculously low price. Use your judgment on responding. It is what it is.

Consignment – Consignment shops generally take 30 – 40% of the purchase price. Do your research and call before taking an item to a shop. Some shops have very specific rules on how to prepare an item before taking to the sho. For example, some shops limit how many items they will take from you per month or require dry cleaning dress clothes. One of my favorite shops will take only pictures that have wire hangers and they only take one picture per month.

Donate – Generally, this is the last way to get rid of stuff. It is not always the easiest. Again, do your homework on what things your charity will take. Some don’t take specific electronics, beds, pillows or couches. Pros – can use as a deduction for the estate taxes. Cons- there may be limitations on what they take.


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