There are many types of inheritances, some more desirable than others. You may inherit stocks, bonds or an IRA. You may inherit dishes, furniture, tools, cars, and the list goes on. It is becoming increasingly popular to own guns and ammunition. As a result, you may inherit firearms, gun accessories or related items. Regardless of whether the deceased left you one gun or an entire collection, there are several important steps you should take if you inherited guns from an estate:
1. If you are a prohibited person under the law and cannot lawfully possess guns or similar items, consult an attorney about whether to accept the
or make other arrangements with the executor.2. If you take possession of the inherited property, immediately secure the guns, ammunition, and related accessories in a locked safe designed for storage of firearms.3. Read all instructions for handling and storing the inherited guns. If the inherited property did not come with any product manuals or written instructions, search online for a product manual for each item you inherited.4. Determine if the firearms you inherited were registered. If you did not receive registration information with the inherited property, contact the executor of the estate and ask for information about the registration status.5. If you cannot locate registration information for the inherited property, contact a reputable gun dealer for information on how to verify registration or contact local law enforcement for assistance.6. Do not transport the inherited guns across state lines until you have complied with all applicable laws, including obtaining any necessary registrations and permits. You can find answers to many of your questions about ownership and transport of this type of inherited property on the ATF website.
How To Add Guns To Your Estate Plan
If you own guns and want to include them in your estate plan, there are several steps you should take including:1. Become informed on the implications of transferring this type of property to your
heirs and beneficiaries. Due to the complex array of federal and state laws that apply to firearms, weapons, and accessories, it is more complicated than leaving a piece of jewelry or artwork.
2. Update your estate planning documents to include the firearms. First, decide which heirs should inherit the guns and related items. Make sure the beneficiary to whom you plan to leave your guns does not fall within the definition of prohibited persons that are not lawfully allowed to receive or possess firearms. Complying with federal and state laws regarding possession, transfer, and ownership of guns and accessories can be difficult.Keep in mind that your executor or the personal representative of your estate must comply with applicable gun laws during estate administration. If your will or trust contains a bequest that may violate the law, you could be placing your executor in jeopardy and increasing the cost to settle your estate. In some cases, the executor may be required to sell the property and give the beneficiary cash instead.3. Once you decide who should inherit your guns, the next step is choosing the best estate planning method to transfer your guns. This is not a simple decision. Because of laws and regulations that apply to possession and ownership of firearms and accessories, there are several issues that arise when deciding how to add this type of property to your estate plan.If you have an existing will or living trust, talk to your attorney about updating these documents to include your guns. Another option for transferring this type of property is to make a gun trust. Unfortunately, your estate planning attorney may be unfamiliar with the laws applicable to firearms. If you plan to include your guns or related items in your estate plan, make sure your attorney is knowledgeable about the best way to pass them to your heirs or beneficiaries.
Determining the best method for adding guns to your estate plan will depend on several factors, such as:
a. the beneficiary you want to inherit them and whether there are any issues with the beneficiary receiving or possessing the guns;b. whether you want the guns to pass to a specific beneficiary as part of a specific bequest or want the guns to pass to your heirs or beneficiaries collectively as part of the general personal property in your estate;c. whether you want the guns to pass outside of probate, for privacy reasons or some other reason;d. the type of guns and accessories you own; ande. the federal and state laws applicable to the intended beneficiary and your estate.Do not attempt to add guns to your will or living trust without an attorney. It may seem like an easy solution to buy an estate planning form online and do it yourself. However, adding firearms to your estate plan is a complex issue and should never be done without qualified legal counsel. Making a separate gun trust without an attorney can also lead to costly mistakes.
4. Prepare a Letter of Instruction to your executor or the person that will settle your estate. Include information about your guns and accessories in the Letter of Instruction, such as whether they are registered and how to access the guns if they are in a locked safe.