Still, the job was so massive that I needed help and you probably will, too.

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The cost will depend on such factors as your location and the type of appraisal you want.

You might pay $75 to $250 an hour for a general appraisal; $300 an hour for a fine arts appraisal.

Hall says a general appraisal typically takes one to three hours.

When my mother died last year at 87, I was torn between grief and the immediate need to empty the New York City apartment she had lived in for 50 years.

As her only child and executor, I had 30 days to dismantle a beloved home filled not only with memories, but with stacks of bank statements, overflowing closets (Mom had owned a women's clothing boutique), boxes of unsorted photos, furniture, antiques, kitchenware and more.

The investor who owned her apartment wanted to sell the place quickly.

The freak October snowstorm that arrived the week she died kept me from returning to my suburban New Jersey house. There was so much to do at my mom's apartment that I worked there day after day, from early morning until late at night.

(MORE: 'The Conversation’ You Need to Have This Holiday Season) Emotionally and physically, the task was draining.

I had to make snap decisions about what to keep, toss, sell, give to family members or donate to charity.