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There are many reasons you might need to coordinate the shipping of an entire estate. Whether it’s downsizing, the death of a loved one, divorce or bankruptcy, it’s likely to be a complex process and may be an emotional one, as well. Often, the items being shipped are family heirlooms that have a high sentimental value, a high financial value or both. And in many cases, items will have to be shipped to different recipients in different locations, which only complicates the move.

In short, estate moves aren’t simple “blanket wrap and go” transactions. They require careful planning and skillful execution in order to ensure that items arrive in as-shipped condition when and where they are expected. Clearly, this isn’t a job you want to entrust to just any moving company. You need to work with one that has an in-depth understanding of estate shipping and significant experience in this area.

How to Ensure Your Estate Move Goes Smoothly

By taking the steps below, you can help ensure that your estate move is as stress-free and uneventful as possible.

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  1. Research specialty crating, packaging and shipping companies. It’s critical that you carefully assess your options as far as who will care for your estate items during the moving process. Going with the first name you find online or hear from a friend can mean you don’t get the kind of attentive service and careful handling of your items that you and your family deserve. Does the company have proven expertise in the shipping of expensive or fragile items? Do they have packaging engineers on staff who are experts in developing strategies for protecting goods during transport? The answers to these and other questions about a company’s qualifications can guide you to the right provider.
  2. Get a quote. While it’s not a good idea to use price as the determining factor in selecting a crating and shipping provider, cost isn’t something you can ignore, either. Any company on your “short list” should be happy to provide you with an estimate. And, of course, you aren’t obligated to work with a company simply because they gave you a quote, and they shouldn’t expect you to.
  3. Get high-value items appraised. If you’ll be shipping items that have a high financial value, you’ll want to be sure you have a good idea of their worth so that you can insure them properly. Be sure to have an appraiser look at the pieces well in advance of the move. Estate moves can be stressful enough without having to squeeze in a visit by an appraiser just before the shipping crew arrives!
  4. Inspect all items. Before your crating and shipping company goes to work, you want to inspect all items you’ll be shipping. There are two reasons for this. First, if an item has existing damage, you and the shipper will want to be aware of that so that the item can be packaged in a way that prevents further damage. Second, if an item is in a condition that increases the risk of damage (like loose screws or bolts on furniture), you should do what you can to address the issue before packaging and crating begins.
  5. Work with your crating and shipping company to do a full inventory of your items. You don’t want to simply say, “Everything in this room goes.” and hope that you remember what was in that room if there are any discrepancies when your shipment arrives at its destination.
  6. Provide detailed instructions if there will be multiple shipments. In some cases, the items in a home will have to be sent to multiple locations. If that’s the case, you need to be very clear with your crating and shipping company about what goes where. A company that has estate shipping expertise will know how to accurately log your items, document the delivery details and tag items appropriately.
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  8. Ask about how particularly expensive and/or fragile items will be handled. Your crating and shipping company will strive to take the burden of coordinating your delivery or deliveries off of you. But that doesn’t mean you need to be a passive observer. If you have questions or concerns about how a particular item will be packaged, crated and handled, don’t hesitate to ask them. The company should be able to explain how the item will be prepared for transport, whether that means using standard shipping containers and packing materials or a custom crate and a specialized blocking and bracing strategy.
  9. Obtain cargo insurance if needed. Cargo insurance is coverage for damage to or the loss of items when a shipment is being handled and transported. Your own insurance policies may cover your items, but the crating and shipping company should be able to provide cargo insurance as well if needed. For example, at Craters & Freighters, we’re authorized by our insurance company to pack and crate virtually any high-value item thanks to our many years of very low claims ratios. There are different types of cargo insurance, as your shipping company can explain.
  10. Inspect your shipment when it arrives. As soon as you are able, you should check your shipment to see 1) if all the items you shipped have arrived, and 2) whether all items are in as-shipped condition. If anything has been lost or damaged, contact your crating and shipping company to talk about whether you need to file a claim. In some cases, a “lost” item will be found later. If it turns out something can’t be found or is damaged, the company should help you as you work to get compensation from your cargo insurance or other coverage.

Get Assistance From a Crating and Shipping Company You Can Trust

Working with the right crating, packaging and shipping company can greatly reduce the stress of an estate move for everyone involved. When you’re overseeing a move and a skilled and experienced team arrives and goes to work, you can feel a huge weight being lifted from your shoulders. And your confidence in them lets you turn your attention to other matters while they do what they do best.