Estate plan: call a professional

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Caring for others, especially seniors, has always been a big part of Jennifer Spencer’s life. In fact, caring for others is her way of life. Her new business helps deal with the details when someone downsizes, moves to a senior facility or passes away.

The new Lowcountry resident recently opened the doors to Relics Estate Sales and Consignments on Persimmon Street in Bluffton, a business she started with her fiancé and business partner, Scott Tracy.

The couple had several successful years performing estate liquidations back in Dallas, Texas, but a desire to move closer to family drew them to the Lowcountry. “We literally came to just check it out and wound up signing a lease on our condo that day,” Spencer said. “We realized immediately there were not any services here we provide. So we knew: let’s just do this.”

Scott Tracy and Jennifer Spencer2Plenty of folks around here will be glad they made that move. Culling through a lifetime of items — and the memories they’re wrapped in — is a monumental task. When combined with the emotions surrounding an estate sale, the chore can seem impossible. That’s where Spencer and Tracy step in.

“People just don’t know what to do,” Spencer said. “They don’t even begin to know how to organize things. How would you even go about that? Because it’s a lifetime of things that are there.”

To Spencer and Tracy, this is more than a business. It’s a service to their new community.

“It’s a huge relief when we come in and say, ‘OK, you don’t have to do anything else. We’re going to take care of everything for you. You can worry about all the other things, we’ll take care of all of this,’ ” Spencer said.

There can be a lot to take care of, especially when you’re grieving.

“We deal with a lot of family conflict,” Spencer said. “I was a home hospice nurse, so my background was dealing with that a lot. You’re dealing with death, and then everybody starts to fight over the little things. I have a lot of experience in that as a case manager.”

It can help to have someone else around in times like these. “We have a lot of situations,” she said, “and we can be a kind of buffer in between whoever is the executor of the estate and the other children.”

Estate sales aren’t always tragic situations, but they are always personal and often tricky. Spencer’s careful touch is perfect for navigating those waters.

“Sometimes it’s a downsize, like moving into a senior living center,” she said. “So when that happens, all they have to do is figure out what they want to keep. I’ll help them figure out what they want to keep and help them to let go of the things they don’t want to keep. Sometimes we just have to talk to them and spend a lot of time conversing.”

Scott Tracy and Jennifer Spencer3

Once the tricky issues have been ironed out, Spencer and the Relics team can dive into the process of finding and organizing all of the wonderful things that people collect. It can feel like a treasure hunt.

“One time, we found $1,000 in $100 bills spread all over the house,” Spencer said. “You just take that out and put it in an envelope and mail it to the family. Things like that, you really have to trust a person who’s going into your family’s home and going through everything. And there has to be a great amount of respect.”

And a great amount of care, something of which Spencer has an endless supply.