What does an Estate Liquidator do?

Alexis W.

An estate liquidator turns a person's property into cash. When individuals pass away, they often leave possessions behind such as homes, furniture, cars, clothing, and other assets that are not "liquid," or cash-based. An estate liquidator is responsible for turning these assets into cash.

Estate liquidators often hold estate sales after the owner of the estate has died.
Estate liquidators often hold estate sales after the owner of the estate has died.

Generally, estate liquidators are called in by those who inherit an estate. The executor of a will, or the person put in charge of handling the distribution of assets, may call an estate liquidator. Heirs who inherit a home or other assets that are not easily turned into cash may also call a liquidator directly.

Estate liquidators sometimes handle family heirlooms.
Estate liquidators sometimes handle family heirlooms.

The liquidator then comes to the estate in order to determine its potential value and how to best liquidate it. The liquidator may visit the home or appraise the possessions that the heirs or executor want to liquidate. He then determines how best to proceed with turning the asset into cash.

Estate liquidators must have knowledge of how to appraise various estate assets and/or must have access to appraisers. For example, if a liquidator is called in to liquidate an estate made up of old oriental rugs, he or she must be able to have those rugs assessed to determine the cash value that a seller should get for them. Without knowing how much value the estate has, the liquidator could end up losing a large portion of the estate's value by not liquidating it properly.

The liquidator must then make a determination on how best to turn the assets into cash. There are several common and popular methods for liquidating an estate. The estate liquidator could take the items from the estate to public auction, where they would be sold in lots or individually to bidders, or he could have an estate sale in which people come to the home or to a set location and purchase items from the estate.

There are benefits to both auctions and estate sales. Auctions may be more widely publicized, especially if the parts of the estate are being auctioned off with other items. Estate sales may also attract customers, but an estate liquidator will have to price each item for an estate sale with a price tag so buyers can shop the sale. Regardless of which method of liquidation is chosen, estate liquidators must have a good idea of how much the items are worth, and must organize them in such a way that the items are attractive to customers.

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