* Don’t do anything rash. If there’s a piece that has historical or sentimental value to your family and you don’t have room for it, see if someone else wants it.

* If you plan to work with a professional, be sure to choose someone qualified and trustworthy. The appraiser should have no interest in buying or selling the items; only in assigning values.

* Handle distribution of items among family members with sensitivity because it can cause rifts that last a lifetime. It may be best to get an appraiser to assign value to items to ensure fairness.

* Choose the proper market. You don’t put a Matisse in a garage sale or a Beanie Baby in an auction at Sotheby’s. A fine piece of furniture may be worth more in a larger market, but will the shipping costs override the difference?

* If you’re having your estate appraised, be sure to show the appraiser everything. Lots of people forget to show the appraiser the things under the sink in the laundry room, garage or attic.

* Be aware that appraisers typically charge an hourly rate for service. Be wary of anyone who bases his or her charges on a percentage of the value of the items they are appraising.

Reporter B.C. Manion can be reached at (813) 259-7150 or