Don't throw away anything!! Not until a company visits and tells you that it has little or no value. Old linens, towels, pots, and pans, have a potential buyer.
First and foremost, go through all paperwork and remove any items that would disclose personal or financial information. You can find the best real estate sales online.
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There will be many people coming through your house or the estate of which you are the executor. Social security numbers, birthdates, credit card numbers, and bank accounts can easily be copied and used.
Secondly, go through pockets of clothes and any other areas that you suspect could have been a hiding place for valuables. Reputable companies will do this for you and present to you any valuable items they discover. However, prudence is needed.
If you own jewelry, coins, and other collectibles, it is always a good idea to go through any jewelry to identify gold or silver. Point these items out to the company you have chosen to perform the sale.
Most established estate sale companies have high-end clients who purchase gold and silver for a much higher price than local gold and silver buyers in the commercial market.
Gold and silver should be weighed and value given to not only the gold or silver content but also designs.
Sterling silver flatware should be weighed first, then the pattern identified and the current value. There are many dealers that would purchase good sterling flatware.
Jewelry, a good estate company will value costume jewelry based on design, desirability, and of course maker mark on the back. Remember, just because it is old does not mean it has a high value.