An estate sale is one means of selling goods not willed to or disputed by survivors of a deceased person. In some cases, the sale can also be used as a means of paying a deceased person’s debts. Generally, auctioneers, experts in antiques, or simply a professional organization that takes a profit runs the sale. Still, for many, disposing of the goods of a person’s estate is simply too onerous to take on, particularly when people are grieving. When no one in the family wants the goods, then selling them often makes the most sense, especially if the family needs to empty a house in order to sell it.
The difference between an estate sale and a garage or yard sale is that it is normally run by professionals, and the goods being sold probably belonged to someone who is now deceased. This can give people some qualms, particularly when purchasing clothing or beds. Shoppers may want to remember that the sale will likely benefit the family who has lost someone, and that it tends to be the easiest way for them to discharge a parent or family member’s debts or claim an inheritance.
In the absence of a will or family members to inherit the items, the sale is almost always a way of paying for debts, particularly if the person ran up bills at the end of his or her life. Frequently, funeral costs, hospitalization, or long-term care can be very expensive, and difficult to afford by a person on a limited income. It’s therefore helpful to creditors, hospitals, funeral homes, and the like when such losses can be compensated for.
Additionally, some people specify in wills that their goods be sold in an estate sale to benefit some charitable organization. Shoppers can ask the person running the sale if this is the case. It may help some who feel squeamish purchasing the items of a deceased person to know that their purchases might benefit a worthy charity.
An estate sale may last for a day or two, or may be held for two subsequent weekends. Shoppers can also find them occurring during the week, and people who are looking for bargains might look to a non-weekend sale to find them. These naturally tend to draw fewer people, and prices may be lower. The person running the sale may also contact or have dealings with antique stores, consignment shops, or a variety of other stores that may get first dibs on certain large items.
Shoppers will find a lot of variety at most estate sales. They can include clothes, appliances, household items, linen, silverware and china, but also occasionally cars or boats. People will usually get the best deal on items during the last days of a sale, because at that point, the goal is to sell everything. When a shopper finds something that she likes, though, she might not want to wait because it could be quickly sold to someone else. It is possible for shoppers to bargain at an estate sale, since even a slightly reduced price will still normally profit the family and the sale manager or company.