To empty your house of every stick of furniture, consider a liquidator. These are the pros who run estate sales. But beware: The industry is unregulated, and there is plenty of potential to be ripped off, says Julie Hall, director of the American Society of Estate Liquidators and author of The Boomer Burden: Dealing With Your Parents' Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff. Hall suggests interviewing several liquidators before choosing one. Ask for references, an explanation of fees (which average 35 percent) and a copy of the contract. Make sure your liquidator is insured and bonded, and check online reviews and the Better Business Bureau before you sign. And trust your gut, says Hall: "If something feels wrong, find someone else."
Next page: Trash it. »