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Are You Planning Ahead?

Kevin Elliott (KG0MN) on November 12, 2016
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Are you planning ahead?


What steps have you taken in advance?

Have you put any thought into what will happen to all of your prized radio equipment in the event of your death or permanent injury that prohibits you from using them?  Who will you appoint to either give away or sell your equipment so that the surviving spouse, partner or sibling will not have to worry about this while they are going through one of the hardest events of their life?

One of the first steps and in my opinion the most important part of making these arrangements is to identify every piece of ham gear that you value over $50.00 prior to your death or injury.  Below is an partial of list of some of my gear that my wife can use in the event that something should happen to me.  This list is not the entire list of the gear I own and more than likely your list will be far bigger than mine once you start compiling it.





Kenwood TS-590

HF radio 80 - 10 plus 6 meter



Kenwood TS-2000

HF radio 80 - 10 plus 6 meter. 2 meters and 70 cm



Icom IC-7000

HF radio 80 - 10 plus 2 meter



Drake T4XC and R4C

HF radio 80 - 10 plus WARC Bands



Linear Amplifiers




Ameritron AL-811

80-10 meters 1200 watts PEP



Heathkit SB-200

80-10 meters 1200 watts PEP



Drake L4B

80-10 meters 1KW output







Kenwood MC-80

Adjustable Microphone



Kenwood MC-80

Adjustable Microphone



Shure 444

High impedance mic



Heil Goldline

mic for the FT-950




This way if something should happen to the ham operator whether male or female, the surviving spouse, child, partner or friend of the SK will know what the value of your equipment is, so they can be sold off if this is the desire of the estate.

In the event that a large amount of time has passed since this list was completed the prices may have to be adjusted either upward or downward.  This is where the combined knowledge of the Silent Keys friends will come in to play establishing the adjusted prices.  Another source of current asking prices are web site such as, and

The Sale of the items

With your list in hand it is now time for the survivor to decide who will help with the disposal of the gear.  If the SK belonged to a local ham club see if you can find an email or newsletter from the club that will likely list the officers of the club and they can be a very valuable source of information on how to sell the items. You may also want to offer a list of the items to the club and offer to sell them to them with a portion of the sales to go to the club, this is something that most ham would have no problem with.  This would also reduce the number of items that might have to be sold on eBay.  

Remember the SK more than likely had antennas and a towers erected at his QTH and these will need to come down unless someone else in the family is planning on using them or keeping them.  If you prefer to just sell all of the gear you can check your local yellow pages to see if there is someone that is listed as an eBay seller, this person can inventory the equipment and take photos and arrange shipping of all of the items for a small commission on each sale. One thing that I have started doing is labeling any box that contains cables or wall warts along with a note attached to each one of them explaining which device they are to be sold with. 

Another suggestion is to contact one of the SK’s close ham friends to come to the SK’s home QTH and check all the gear he can to verify whether or not these items work or not.  Remember items that are known to work will fetch a far better price than items whose condition is unknown or not working.

As of late there seems to be more ham are using estate auction web site to sell their equipment.  These site will inventory your gear as well as photograph all items and then list them on the Internet so people from all over the world can see the auction items and place and bid on it and if they win the item they can also make arrangements to ship the item. Here is list of links that can be used to list the items you have for sale.

Be sure to include the estimated cost of shipping the item to buyer.  This can be figured via the USPS.Gov or web sites.

Antenna and Tower Removal

One of the biggest issues faced when selling a SK’s radio gear will be the removal of a tower and mounted antenna.  When you find someone who is interested in purchasing the tower, antenna and rotor, explain to the buyer that all responsibility for the safe removal of the tower and antenna will be at his/her expense and part of the expense of purchasing the items will be reduced due to the fact that they will be responsible for the insurance and liability of removing these items. 

Kevin Elliott KG0MN

Member Comments:
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Are You Planning Ahead?  
by K4LSX on November 12, 2016 Mail this to a friend!

No, it is not "if", it is certainly "when"!

Are You Planning Ahead?  
by K4LSX on November 12, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Sorry, too early in the morning. I forgot to add, a great article and suggestion. I have helped liquidate a couple of SK ham radio collections and like all of the other toys, it is a colossal "pain" for the survivors.

RE: Are You Planning Ahead?  
by N8FVJ on November 12, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I sold off a ham radio estate. Never knew the ham, but meet his wife that cared for my ill sister. It was an extensive amount of gear and took a few months to pack & sell. She received well over $10K.
Are You Planning Ahead?  
by KD7T on November 12, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
What is a fair "Commission" to offer to someone to sell and dispose of an
SK's estate?
RE: Are You Planning Ahead?  
by W6CAW on November 12, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
RE: Are You Planning Ahead?  
by W1ITT on November 12, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Years ago my friends K1RQG(sk), W1GWU and I made an agreement among us that when one of us passed to the other side of the ionosphere, the other guys would take care of his ham stuff for the benefit of the widow. We were long term friends and all the YLs knew us and each other as well. We reiterated the agreement over the years. It was verbal, not formally written.
Unexpectedly, Joe K1RQG died. His wife Pearl was contacted by a couple of vultures offering a lowball deal for "everything", but she knew she was prepared, and that she didn't want strangers lurking around the house. Bob and I went to work, at Pearl's direction, and dismantled Joe's considerable collection of radios, including the 32 foot EME dish, test equipment, lathes, milling machine and too much "good stuff" to list. We sold at hamfests and through online contacts. It's rather emotional when you first begin dismantling a good friends station, but we all got though it and Pearl received much more than the lowball offer from the sleazeball vulture, and there was exactly zero "commission".
We learned that we buy ham gear at retail and sell at wholesale. Towers and antennas are pretty much a giveaway if you can get someone to safely take them down. Vintage gear goes for much less than one would expect because the guys who know and appreciate it are passing along as well. (Most of the "kids" are only mildly amused by S-Lines etc)
I would suggest that the inventory is a good place to start, but that one should choose a couple close and trusted friends to do the work, as it's not what most of our women are suited for. And no matter what you may have said before, when your buddy becomes a silent key, the radio stuff now belongs to the XYL and she's the boss.
Real friendship continues on, both here near RF ground as well as on the other side of the ionosphere.
RE: Are You Planning Ahead?  
by K6AER on November 12, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I have been involved in several SK estate sales. If you are handling the sale and shipping of the estate items a 10-15% commission is normal. Communicate to the spouse that some individuals will arrive and offer a $4000 for all the items and the spouse is not aware these items might be worth a lot more. Also there are some items that don't hold their value very well. As hams age the desire for old tube gear is waning and the market is getting soft.

Antennas and towers are a problem. To take down a beam and a tower might cost $2000 with a large array. Crane and professional help is not cheap. Most tower and antenna removal is a draw with the removal paying for the tower and antennas.

I had a friend that died and he had a lot of HP spectrum analyzers and test equipment. Although these boxes cost $40,000 at one time (ten years old) they were only worth about $1500 on today's market. On the other end his wife said he had an old tube radio from when they got married...I was a pristine KWM-2. Had I not been there she would have given it away.

It is very important to catalog the items, note that they are working in good order. Your spouse has enough on their plate. Having a good ham friend of the family really helps.
Are You Planning Ahead?  
by WA2ONH on November 12, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Here is an article entitled "The Final Balance Sheet"

from the National Contest Journal (NCJ) - Sept / Oct 2006

The possibility of becoming a Silent Key is not something that too many of us care to think about, yet it has a huge
impact on the friends and family we leave behind.

I am writing this article with a heavy heart, as I have lost a close friend who passed away suddenly in March of this
year. I offered to help his family with the disposition of his equipment. He was a dedicated QRPer, and his well-organized
documentation of his station made my job much easier, but also served as a wake-up call for me to address my own lack of organization.

Essential Steps

I believe that what separates contesters from the rest of the ham community is that we have a winning attitude toward
everything. Preparing for the fate that ultimately awaits all of us certainly isn't a competition to be won, but I believe
that we want to win in the sense that we do the best for our family and friends when we leave this world. (We want our
loved ones to recoup as much of our investment as possible.) Here are a few easy things we can each do to make
things easier for everyone.

First of all, you should designate someone to handle your ham radio estate. For most of us, it should probably be another
contester, because only a contester could appreciate the value of much of our gear and gadgets. That person would also
know who to market the gear to.

I'd also recommend that a single individual be designated as opposed to having a group or a contest club take care
of things. An individual can provide greater accountability to the survivors, and can be a single focal point for all
transactions; that individual can rally the support of the group or club as needed. It is also surprising how emotions can
lead to arguments and even bitter feuds when there isn't someone in charge.

It is also highly important to have an inventory of all your equipment, with location, features, approximate value and
additional information as needed, such as serial number, date purchased, recent repairs, and so on. Store your inventory,
along with the manuals for everything, in a file drawer or designated location to make it easy to find. Depending on how detailed
you want to get, you may set a low dollar limit for items on the inventory, such as everything worth over $50 or $100.

You should also have some type of sequence of events in mind for the disposition of your equipment. In the case of my
26 September/October 2006 friend, the family and I decided to do a blind Internet auction that included about 25 individuals
that were close friends and / or associates. We selected the equipment to be auctioned and distributed the list to the
individuals for bids. We provided 10 days for responses, and only the person who won the bid was notified. This was
very successful, and close friends were glad to have a keepsake.

We also decided on a prioritized plan for selling everything. Those items that didn't sell in the blind auction were offered
to the QRP community through various Internet forums. Finally, whatever was still left was taken to a large area swap meet to be sold. Any significant "leftovers" are to be sold through general ham radio listings or given to charity as appropriate.

Lessons learned

• Contact a person and designate him to be the custodian of your equipment upon your death.
• Keep current contact information available.
• Maintain an accurate inventory with supporting written materials.
• Designate how you want your equipment auctioned, sold, given away or otherwise disposed of.

On a personal basis, I have completed most of the work done on this. I must admit that I have much more peace of mind for my family because of it. Doing the inventory also made me realize how much stuff I have that I never use. I ended up putting a bunch of items up for sale, and will use the proceeds on a few things that I really need.

Next issue, we'll pick up where we left off last time. Topic for November-December 2006: Swap Meet Secrets!
Here's your chance to share your techniques for buying, selling and trading at swap meets. How do you bring home
what you want without putting a hole in the wallet? What are your "best buys" and what do you avoid?
Thanks in advance for your input

Paul Schaffenberger, K5AF
RE: Are You Planning Ahead?  
by K8QV on November 12, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
My wife knows to let a couple of trusted and knowledgeable ham friends handle it all for her. They wouldn't take a dime for doing that, but she's been instructed to compensate them for their effort anyway. No worries here!
RE: Are You Planning Ahead?  
by K9MHZ on November 12, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Agree there. Nice if people show some class on both sides....the helping ham friend who doesn't expect anything, and the widow who shows her appreciation anyway by compensating him a bit for his effort.
Are You Planning Ahead?  
by NA5XX on November 12, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Sure I planned ahead. My son is a ham and he can have the equipment.
RE: Are You Planning Ahead?  
by N1OIE on November 13, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Commission?: Nada. Vulgar to profit off someone's death, IMHO. Leave that to the lawyers and real estate agents and other bottom dwellers. I think best thing to do is to volunteer to help someone in need, if you can, and that should be reward enough. Asking for a commission would be a lot like ripping someone off, if you ask me. It's just filthy lucre, after all.
RE: Are You Planning Ahead?  
by K6AER on November 13, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
A 15% commission serves several aspects. If the ham has only one radio, A G5RV in the trees and a basic power supply that is one thing. Most hams I know it will take a week just to dig a path to the back of their garage. By offering a commission you will get top dollar for the estate items. You have to clean the equipment. Find out if it works. Do research on its value? Post the sale, ship the items. I have seen SK estate sales consume 80 hours over a months’ time easily. Also, you have to deal with returns if the buyer is stupid.

Towers and beams are another issue. Safety is a concern. I charge $85 an hour to do tower work and that also includes $3M in insurance. Cranes are often involved. Removal of foundations. Hams spend 50 years building a station, it does not come apart in a day. Many tower set ups are waiting to fall down.

Just because someone dies, does not mean your time is not worth something. Although it is a hobby I have never had a business give me a radio. This no different.

Are You Planning Ahead?  
by WX4O on November 13, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I have the ARRL equip. insurance, and the local ham club has said they will help mi esposa if'n I pass. My philosophy regarding long life is "Don't die". At 72 I like that idea. :)
Are You Planning Ahead?  
by KB4QAA on November 14, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
-If you family really needs money, then get off your duff and sell your excess equipment NOW while you can maximize sales.

-How much effort would you put into selling and getting maximum price for your wifes' antique doily and linen collection if she died? Uh Huh. Most of our families feel the same way about radios, and would be happy to get rid of them for any amount or else haul them to the dump.
RE: Are You Planning Ahead?  
by AA4PB on November 14, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
As long as you are planning for disposal of your ham gear, it might be a good idea to pre-pan & pay for your funeral so your family doesn't get pressured into a big expense at the last minute.
Are You Planning Ahead?  
by KB2DHG on November 15, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Thought of this already so here is what I did, I placed stickers on the bottom of each one of my pieces of equipment with the price on them...
A very simple approach to making sure my family gets what the equipment is worth.
RE: Are You Planning Ahead?  
by K9MHZ on November 15, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
"by KC0BTS on November 13, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Commission?: Nada. Vulgar to profit off someone's death, IMHO....."

No KC0BTS callsign showing in the QRZ database.
RE: Are You Planning Ahead?  
by W8QZ on November 15, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Having been involved in several sizable SK estate sales, I don't believe it's immoral to ask some commission. It is a significant amount of work to sort out, evaluate, and price equipment (so that it will sell in a reasonable time), along with packing it to multiple swap meets, listing on forums, dealing with buyers, shipping, etc., etc. I believe that by putting work into selling the pieces properly, the widow got more out of the equipment, even after deducting a commission, than she probably would have received otherwise.
In all these cases, the SK was not a personal friend, but my club was requested to help. If the SK was a personal friend, and you're willing to donate your efforts to help dispose of the estate, that's fine and noble to do. More power to you. We all should have good friends like that - but not all do.
As far as recording serial numbers and prices - I doubt it is worth the trouble. How can you know what your TS-520 is going to be worth in 5 or 10 years? It will probably have dried out capacitors, and dirty switch contacts by then, and not work properly (even if it does now). Unless one has lots of time to restore something like that, it's better to sell it 'as is'. The price as a 'project radio' will have little relationship to what you originally paid. And, who cares about serial numbers on an old radio?
In my experience, the most important thing would be to keep associated accessories and manuals in a place they can be readily joined-up to the particular radio.
RE: Are You Planning Ahead?  
by K6AER on November 15, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Don't forget the boxes. Radios are worth 20% more with a pristine box.....
Are You Planning Ahead?  
by W4CX on November 15, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Great idea. My biggest fear is that the XYL would sell all my gear for what I told her I paid for it. :-)
RE: Are You Planning Ahead?  
by K6AER on November 15, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
My biggest fear is my wife will sell my gear before
I die.
RE: Are You Planning Ahead?  
by W1RKW on November 15, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I instructed my wife to do whatever is easiest especially if it means hauling it to the dump. When I'm 6ft under, I won't care one bit.
Are You Planning Ahead?  
by AH7I on November 15, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
It's good to have a list for insurance purposes. Say ball lightning alights in the middle of your shack.

I strongly suggest having a written agreement with the person who will liquidate your stuff. Work out a commission that will make it worth their time. Leaving a list of near retail prices for family who know nothing about ham gear will only make it more difficult for whoever is willing to take on the liquidation.

Back to the list for insurance. It may be better for heirs to donate to charity. Especially if you have a lot of oddball, high value, collectible type stuff. Donating all your other crap, golf clubs, car, chainsaw, flyrods, ... will help too.

73, -Bob
Are You Planning Ahead?  
by W9YW on November 18, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I have a fellow ham friend with a large basement of gear. Some works, but much does not. It's a lifetime accumulation of stuff. It's my fervent hope that HE TAGS WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOESN'T. There is a lot of stuff. Some of it was bought, surplus, and some of it is good as gold, including pristine vendor "collections" of brands/models. There are great working radios-- I know because he bought several of mine.

What I dread are the days I'm going to spend, trying to figure out what to take to Dayton, how much to ask for it, and any clue as to what works, what doesn't, etc.

It will take a 28' Uhaul packed to the gills to transport it all to Dayton. Some of it's obscure military. Some of it's very-well known. And I have zippo idea of what's truly what.

So here's my best advice: DOCUMENT WHAT YOU HAVE AND TAG IT.

73 de W9YW
RE: Are You Planning Ahead?  
by LNXAUTHOR on November 20, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
i know i'm getting closer to SK status when i spend more time researching in the classifieds here than on new product reviews
Are You Planning Ahead?  
by W2MC on November 21, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Yes, there are plenty of vultures "out there", watching the SK lists and trying to obtain gear on the cheap for resale. Most, if not all local clubs will help the SK family as a service for their departed members. Another reason to SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL RADIO CLUB!

Having said that, while a list is a nice thing for your XYL to reference, you also NEED to set reasonable expectations for the SK sale. What troubles me (and yes, I have dealt with it before) is that the rig values identified in the example spreadsheet are for pristine, fully functional (and fully vetted/backed) examples of the radios and equipment...they may actually reflect the "new" purchase price. That might be good information for an insurance company; to provide replacement cost for these items.

However, SK estate items...even if they 'look' 100%, are not in the same category as "new" or "replacement cost"! Remember, the previous owner, no matter of how much of a good guy he was, is no longer around to provide any information or background on the equipment, or even able to tell you if it works or not! The buyer of an SK estate item, even if the rig has been checked-out by the local club, is very much buying the equipment "AS-IS"...and it should be priced accordingly.

Also, eventually there will be the well-meaning relative who will chime-in saying "I saw that on the internet auction selling for a lot more than that!"...implying that you are trying to rip off their loved ones. They are forgetting that asking price does NOT necessarily equal the selling price, and that the auction house or consignment seller charges a percentage, as well as listing fees, selling fees, escrow fees, credit fees, packaging fees, shipping fees, etc, etc, etc...and taking-on all the risks, such as repairs, back-charges, etc, from complaining buyers.

RE: Are You Planning Ahead?  
by KB6QXM on December 23, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
My YL is a ham. She can have it all when I become a SK!
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