7 Ways to Unload Your Family Heirlooms


Of all the things we do in taking care of our aging parents, dealing with their household stuff might be the most cumbersome. After all, when the end finally comes, it’s up to us to sort, store, sell, toss, donate, and clean everything until the home is empty.

This is no small task, especially in a time of grief. Where to start?

Here are some options for dealing with your parents’ items that won’t be finding a new home with family members. Remember that the more time you have, the more money you can make for the estate.

1. Sell high-value items individually. Have potentially high-value items like oriental rugs, pieces of jewelry, artwork, and crystal professionally appraised. You can then decide if it’s worth selling through a broker or auction house. They’re more likely to get top dollar than if you sell on your own.

2. Sell vintage clothes online. Was your dad dapper in his day? Was your mother a clotheshorse? Vintage clothing in good condition can be worth good money. Sell to an online vintage store like Vintage Vixen, or if you don’t want to go digital, pick a local consignment shop instead. Remember the shoes, bags, and scarves, too.

3. Sell useful items locally. All kinds of furniture, electronics, power tools, yard equipment, and sporting gear in good condition do well on Craigslist and can bring in some quick cash. You can also reach out to your local connections on Facebook or on a community message board to find with someone who wants what you’re selling.

4. Sell old media. Yes, you can actually make decent money off these items if you have the time. Powell’s buys used books. Sell DVDs and CDs online at FYE or decluttr. Vinyl LPs are hot again and shouldn’t be tossed; bring them to Records – The Good Kind in Vernon, or try Integrity’n Music in Wethersfield for selling jazz records.

5. Donate items to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Two caveats here: one, the items must be in good condition, and two, they must be wanted. Many thrift stores are filled to capacity with old furniture, so don’t be surprised if they turn that 50-year old credenza down. No cash here, but the donation is tax-deductible.

6. Hold a digital estate sale. New companies like Everything But The House are somewhere between selling your items online yourself and hiring an estate sale company to do everything for you. They come to your home, photograph and catalog items, sell them online at auction, and then ship off sold items. You may get more money than if you DIY on eBay, but you’ll also be left with items that weren’t sold.

7. Hold a traditional estate sale. This is often the best choice when everything must go quickly. Some estate sale companies do everything from A to Z, even removing unsold items and preparing the house for sale, so you don’t have to stress. The upside is the convenience. The downside is taking in less money than you might otherwise using the methods above.

Downsizing and dealing with the household items of aging parents is just one aspect of managing your estate. When you need help with the financial and legal aspects, give us a call.


Related Post:

Keep or Toss? Keeping Your Records Straight Pays Off

How to Close the Communication Gap with Older Adults

What to Do When Your Parent is a Hoarder


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