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Virginia Beach Estate Planning Lawyer / Blog / Asset Distribution / Selling off a late parent’s possession can be stressful

Selling off a late parent’s possession can be stressful

As if losing a parent wasn’t trying and troublesome enough, many adult children face the grim task of subsequently have to dispose of some of their late mother’s or father’s prized possessions.

Often the sad reality is that what these older people held dear doesn’t have much value to others.

“A few months after my mother died in 2011 at the age of 93, I put her Manhattan apartment on the market and was lucky enough to have a deal within days” Terry Pristin wrote in a recent item for The New York Times. “The buyers were paying cash and seemed certain to be approved by the co-op board.

“But then I faced the real challenge: disposing of six rooms’ worth of furniture and hundreds of decorative plates, crystal bowls and other knickknacks my parents had accumulated during a 61-year marriage. In the end, I spent a lot more time unloading the contents of the apartment than I did selling the apartment itself, although the financial payoff was, of course, in no way comparable. And there were moments when the job seemed overwhelming.”

“You’re lucky if the contents are worth one-tenth of the value of the apartment,” Nick Thorn, vice president of Litchfield County Auctions in Litchfield, Conn., was quoted as saying. “But people get so stressed about this stuff.”

“Anxiety, it seems, is an inevitable part of the process,” according to Pristin. “Even if there are no conflicts with siblings about what to do with family belongings, disposing of those things can feel like discarding your history, especially if you are still grieving. That table where you used to have family dinners can feel nearly impossible to part with. Those of us who have been through the process have learned, sometimes the hard way, that there are several ways to alleviate the stress.

“Consider asking your estate lawyer or real estate broker to recommend an intermediary to act as an adviser, someone who knows what sells, where the market is and which auction houses are reputable. This adviser, who may also be able to negotiate with auction houses for a break on commissions and fees, does not have to be an appraiser.”

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