You’ve inherited a house full of Stuff. It’s far away. Your job can’t spare you for long and you’re looking after your elderly mother-in-law. What to do?
Use an estate appraiser and auction off the bulk of the estate. Contact at least two estate appraisers (or estate liquidators or auctioneers) and have them come to the house to look over the estate and give you a quote on their services. These people can do a turnkey operation for you if you want it, although of course, you will pay for these services out of whatever proceeds result from the sale of the Stuff. They can pack, mail, or ship any items you want to keep, specifically those mentioned in the will. They can pick out the more valuable furnishings and take them away for sale at their next scheduled auction. Unless they have a special license, they may not be able to sell liquor and guns, but they will know who to contact for these. They can sort through the remainder, hauling the stacks of newspapers to the recycling center and the rolls of rusty chicken wire to the dump. They can sell boxes of kitchen tools and old books for a couple bucks or take them to Goodwill if you tell them that’s what you prefer. Or they can offer you a flat price, say $15,000 for the entire contents of the house, and what they auction off or throw out is left up to them. (And if you decide to contract with a nonprofit like Goodwill to dispose of the contents, you can use that quote of $15,000 as the credible value of the contents when you declare the donation on your income tax return.)
This option is the least desirable in terms of money for the heirs, but it may be the most desirable for heirs who are too old, too ill, too far away, or too busy to handle any of the work themselves.