Estate PlanninG

Repurposing Medical Equipment After a Loved One’s Passing

The question of what to do with a loved one's remaining possessions is something that every family must face. When someone passes away, their family members may find themselves in possession of medical equipment that was necessary until the very end.

While some of these items may be sold or donated to charity, others may not be easy to get rid of due to licensing requirements or legal restrictions. In this blog post, we explore different options for giving used medical equipment a second life, including donating it to local organizations or selling it on resale sites.

Decluttering After a Loved One’s Passing

Even if somebody is careful to declutter during their lifetime, it is unlikely that they will pass away without any possessions. When somebody is dealing with an ailment or just age-related decline, certain medical items are likely to be needed right up until their final moments:

  • Elder-care or assisted-living products such as bathroom grab bars, shower seats, entryway ramps, and personal alert systems

  • Mobility aids like canes, wheelchairs, scooters, and walkers

  • Eyeglasses and hearing aids

  • Big-ticket medical equipment such as hospital beds, kidney machines, prostheses, ventilators, apnea monitors, and infusion pumps

Family members charged with clearing out the deceased’s home may unwittingly find themselves in control of these left-behind medical items. Nobody in the family may have a use for them, but that does not mean they must be discarded. Provided it is in relatively good condition, the medical equipment can be given to those in need, listed for private sale, or purchased by a dealer.

Where to Donate Used Medical Equipment

The fastest and easiest way to get rid of unneeded medical items is to donate them. Depending on the items, consider the following options for donation:

  • A local hospice, nursing home, church, Veterans Affairs hospital, or Center for Independent Living

  • Charities, including Alliance for Smiles, American Red Cross, American Medical Resource Foundation, Easter Seals, Med-Eq, MedShare, Project CURE, and United Way

  • A local Goodwill store or Salvation Army

  • Eyeglasses

    • The Lions Club Recycle for Sight program, Eyes for the Needy, and New Eyes

    • A local eye doctor who may participate in one of these programs

  • Hearing aids

    • The Starkey Hearing Foundation Hear Now program

    • The Lions Club Hearing Aid Recycling Program, Hearing Charities of America, and Hearing Loss Association of America

In some instances, charitable giving has the added benefit of being tax-deductible. Receipts can be given during an in-person donation or requested from the organization in the case of drop-box or mail donations.

Where to Sell Used Medical Equipment

Donating small personal items like eyeglasses and assistive hearing devices might make more sense than selling them. While hearing aids, which are considered medical devices by the Food and Drug Administration, can be costly and might be worth selling, not all states permit the sale of used hearing aids. Where legal, used hearing aid sales may also have guidelines and restrictions.

E-Commerce Sites

Before selling a medical device on an online marketplace such as eBay, craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace, check the site’s policy.

eBay does not allow the sale of medical devices that require a prescription, and Craigslist does not permit the sale of medical devices at all.

Meta/Facebook says that it does not allow listings related to medical and healthcare products and services—including medical devices.

Not all medical equipment is considered a medical device. However, it is not always easy to tell the difference. Medical gloves and insulin pumps are medical devices, for example, but wheelchairs and hospital beds are medical equipment.

Selling durable medical equipment (DME) or home medical equipment (HME) at the retail level is regulated and requires a license in many states. DME is a specific medical term used by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies, and it covers wheelchairs, canes, crutches, hospital beds, and oxygen equipment, among other items.

Licensing requirements may not apply to personal DME sales on e-commerce sites, but local laws should be consulted just in case.

Resale Sites

An internet search for “companies that buy used medical equipment” or similar terms will reveal a host of relevant companies.

Not all companies are interested in all types of equipment. The website might list the types of equipment a company is interested in buying. For specific inquiries, reach out to the company and provide a description of the items for sale.

Local resellers may be willing to pick up used equipment, but shipping costs may be involved for nonlocal buyers and can affect pricing. Buyers may have a set price for what they are willing to pay. As with most sales, though, it may be possible to negotiate a better deal. Clean up the equipment before shopping it around, take pictures in good lighting, and identify the brand, model, and features.

Instead of using a professional reseller, consider a local medical facility that may be willing to purchase the used medical equipment. In either case, spend some time researching what the equipment may be worth. Online calculators can be used to get a rough idea of used medical equipment value.

We’re Here to Help

When dealing with the possessions of a deceased loved one, it's important to consider the various options available for the disposal of medical equipment. From donating to charities and organizations to selling to resellers, there are numerous ways to ensure that these items can be given a second life and help those in need. With careful consideration and research, it's possible to handle the task of decluttering a loved one's home with care and sensitivity. We’re here to help if you had a loved one pass away and have questions about what to do next. Call Santaella Legal Group, serving all of California, at (925) 831-4840, or reach out to us here.