Grandmother has passed away leaving behind a house filled with art, antiques and collectibles. You and your family members have varied feelings about the objects that have been left behind. Some of your relatives want to divvy up everything.
Others want to just bring in a reseller. Some family members are ready to trash it all and get the project done. And, others still are ready to give away unwanted objects. Some family members can't even deal with the objects as tears flow at just the sight of grandma's quilts or her wash bowl set.
What should you do?
Shown is a wash bowl set. Dr. Lori helps readers to make hard choices for settling estates.
Arrange a family caucus at a location other than your late grandma's home. Give everyone a turn to express their feelings about what should happen with the objects left behind. Everyone needs to keep an open mind - not necessarily an open mouth - about the personal property.
The person in your family who keeps saying that everything is worthless old junk and that the best thing to do is to trash everything is the person throwing away your money and inheritance. Let them have their say, and while some items will not be worth a king's ransom, the trash option usually is the one that people regret in the long run. Remind yourself to ask that person to consider how he would feel once a really valuable item (typically something worth thousands of dollars) is left sitting in the dumpster outside your late grandmother's house. How would he feel when a nosy neighbor, local trash man or antique reseller stops by to just take that valuable piece of old junk for himself?
Often, a dumpster is the original location of many items that you will later find for sale at sky high prices some of the most prestigious auction houses and trendy antique dealerships. Recently, an antique chair was on a deceased neighbor's trash pile and sold by the guy next door for $198,000. Better yet, there was an abstract painting found in a garbage heap on a curb in New York City that was taken home by a jogger passing by who later sold it for more than $1 million.
So, without an unbiased appraisal and review of the current market for your late grandmother's stuff, this dumpster-happy family member is just helping your entire family lose lots of money. Get an unbiased appraisal first.
Another tip to remember is that often seniors will sell items to strangers without their family members even knowing it. This is a dangerous practice for many reasons. Family members are, 100 percent of the time, very upset that they didn't have the opportunity to buy the antique from their grandparents first. Rarely does grandma receive the true value of antiques when selling in this manner.
Seniors protect yourself
My message to seniors and families with loved ones who may need the money from objects to pay for long term care and other expenses, is learn the value of your antiques before you make decisions.
These objects play a vital role in paying for skyrocketing healthcare costs. Don't make a hasty decision.
One more warning: seniors who live alone and consider selling antiques from their house may open themselves up to possible physical danger. I have met seniors who have invited someone they thought was "reputable" to come over to their home to give them prices on antiques.
I have heard of more than one occasion when these seniors have been mistreated, frightened and even physically beat up in their own home when they didn't agree to that buyer's price. The best solution is open communication with all of your family members and an action plan for the appraisal of grandma's antiques.
Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents appraisal events to audiences worldwide.