Estate Cleanouts: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, Part 1

An ‘estate cleanout’ is where you have a house full of items and for various reasons, (bad neighborhood, condition of the house, provision in the will, etc.), an estate sale is not possible.  Usually the owner of the house is deceased or they are in a nursing home, and the executor or guardian needs the house cleaned out so they can sell it.  Somerset House has handled all types of estate cleanouts, or what we like to call the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The “good” estate cleanout is fairly straightforward.  We separate items that can be sold for pickup by the auctioneer, other useable items are donated to the chosen charity, the rest goes into the dumpster.  All items are searched before being disposed of, and we box up mail, legal documents, and any valuable items such as coins and jewelry for delivery to the executor or guardian.  Any hazardous waste such as old paint, chemicals, household cleaners, etc., are properly disposed of, and the house is left in a broom clean condition.

A “bad” estate cleanout is where the house is a big mess.  There are piles of mail, newspapers, clothes, and trash everywhere.  The place hasn’t been cleaned in years, the curtains and carpets are filthy, and the smell is bad.  First we open the windows and then we start with the room closest to the dumpster.  The procedure for the cleanout is the same.  Any items that can be sold or donated to charity are set aside.  Mail, legal documents, and valuables are boxed up for delivery to the executor or guardian.  Old paint, chemicals, etc. go to the recycling center, everything else goes into the dumpster.  Once we’ve emptied the house we can assess the condition of the carpets.  Sometimes the carpets can be cleaned but usually they have to be torn out.  Then we clean the house from top to bottom.  The end result is a house that can be sold and a very happy client.

Next blog:  The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, Part II  

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We got rid of a lot of stuff before we called you…

One thing I hear over and over again that just makes me cringe is “We got rid of a lot of stuff before we called you.”  NEVER DO THIS.  You would be amazed at the amount of money items you consider junk will sell for at an estate sale.  Old phone books, half full bottles of cleaning supplies, rusty tools, old mixers that haven’t worked in years, bags of fabric pieces, garden hoses that leak, broken pieces of tile – I’ve sold them all. 

Not to mention things that may have been hidden in those boxes that you either threw out or gave to charity.  I have personally found gold jewelry in the bottom of wastebaskets, sterling silver in boxes of old clothes, coins tucked into the toes of shoes, and cash hidden in every place you can think of – taped to the bottoms of drawers, in between towels in a linen closet, hidden in the pages of books, stashed in freezers, etc.  The worst story that I’ve ever heard about hidden cash – which thankfully did not happen to me – was the estate sale where the deceased had boxes of balls of yarn.  This was a family run sale, and they had sold most of the balls of yarn at ten cents each, when on the second day a customer brought back three balls of yarn and said “I don’t think you meant to sell this.”  And inside each ball of yarn was a $100 dollar bill.  Yikes.

Estate sale companies don’t charge to come out and take a look at the house, so please, do yourself a favor and call for a consultation before you get rid of anything.

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Where did the name ‘Somerset House Services’ come from?

Have you ever read the Agatha Christie “Miss Marple” books, or watched the PBS Masterpiece Theater series?  In several of the stories, a main clue to the mystery was information Miss Marple obtained at Somerset House in London – from 1873 to sometime in the 1950’s, all birth, marriage, death, and Will records for England and Wales were stored at Somerset House.  So when I was considering a business name, it seemed like a perfect fit, because the majority of our clients are executors of estates. 

 I still like the name, but if I had it to do all over again I’d probably select “Somerset Estate Services”, because unless you’re a Miss Marple fan or a student of English history you’ve probably never heard of Somerset House.  And usually the reaction of people hearing the name for the first time is “…oh, so you run a cleaning service.”  Uh, no…well not exactly, although when we are done with an estate sale or cleanout, the end result is a clean house!

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Welcome to the new blog for Somerset House Services, Inc.  I’ve been wanting to do this for about a year now, and finally forced myself to sit down, research blog sites, and figure out how the technical side of this works. 

So what do we do?  Somerset House Services provides estate services in the Dayton, Ohio metropolitian area, including Estate Sales & Cleanouts, Document Review & Asset Research, Temporary Real Estate Management, and Bill Paying & Household Management.  We work with attorneys, executors, administrators, guardians, powers of attorney, and people that are downsizing or relocating. 

I have a lot of ideas for this blog, and a stack of notes that I’ve jotted down over the last year, so expect to read about how an estate sale works, what an estate cleanout is, how I go about locating assets of an estate, and stories about the wierd and unusual situations we’ve run across.

I hope that you enjoy this blog, and thank you for taking the time to visit!

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