I read an article this morning that reminded me of the importance of checking estate personal property for liens before scheduling a sale.
Any estate property that has a lien or other claim on it cannot be sold until the debt is satisfied. That includes titled property like cars and boats, and untitled personal property like furniture, yard equipment, and tools. Don’t believe it? If an item was purchased using a store credit card, the store retains a claim on the property until the item is paid for. When the item is sold, the store can come after the owners sales agent – the estate operator – for the balance owned. If the amount collected for the item does not fulfill the debt, the sales agent is responsible for the deficiency.
As is often the case with me, I learned this the hard way: I held an estate sale in the 1990s in which the property owner had a new chipper-mulcher that he purchased from Sears. I never asked if it was paid for. Two months after the sale, Sears called me asking for payment in full. The owner was gone; settlement had been made, and I faced a lawsuit if I didn’t pay up. so, I paid.
It’s a good idea to get an owner’s assertion (in writing) that the property he wants to sell is fully owned. It’s also a good idea to check the County Courthouse or online service for lien filings and potential criminal investigations just to make sure.
A Rancho Bernado, California estate sale company was left high-and-dry when the FBI raided a client’s home a few days before a sale was to occur: http://www.10news.com/news/fbi-agents-raid-multi-million-dollar-north-county-estate