If you are working with a reputable firm, the estate sale process should be fairly painless. Once the agreement is made regarding dates, times, and commissions, the estate sale company will need to access the house for about a week or so prior to the sale. They will take care of all the trash, bring in their own tables for display, be responsible for all the pricing and post all the necessary advertising. On the sale days, they are responsible for all of the labor/manpower necessary to conduct the sale. Depending on the agreement, the house is empty after the sale has concluded, or within a day of two of that.
The company takes in all the money during the sale, then distributes your portion to you, usually within a week of the sale ending.