If you are like many people, you have talked with your loved ones about to whom you plan on leaving your property when you die. You may have prepared a Last Will and Testament which leaves your possessions to your spouse, your children, or other loved ones. Firearms, however, are more than personal property. The law does not view firearms as equivalent to other types of personal property, and neither should your estate plan. Rather, firearms (and, for the purposes of this article, ammunition for firearms) must be addressed specifically and separately from other types of personal property.
At Doane & Doane, we pride ourselves in our forward-thinking approach to estate planning. Firearm possession and inheritance is just one of the many topics we discuss with our clients.
Consider State and Federal Laws When Determining an Heir
When deciding who should receive your firearms, it is important to understand federal and state laws. While it is true these laws are subject to change, an estate planning attorney can ensure your desires align with current state and federal laws. For example, certain people, including convicted felons, are prohibited from owning guns under the Federal Gun Control Act.
Consider State and Federal Laws When Determining a Personal Representative
In addition to being mindful of state and federal laws when determining heirs, those who own firearms must also consider those laws when determining a Personal Representative when preparing estate planning documents. For example, when an estate includes firearms, a person convicted of a felony would not be able to administer the estate. One approach is to select more than one Personal Representative. Another approach is to carefully consider other options for a Personal Representative.
Consider Laws State to State
If your heir lives in another state, other laws must be considered. For example, the limitations and regulations for that state must be examined. Transporting firearms across state lines is another topic for discussion with your estate planning attorney. Certainly, it can be accomplished. However, it is a good idea to take some time to explore all options when determining the bequest of firearms.
Consider Firearm Registration
In addition to state and federal laws governing who may own or possess a firearm, there are requirements for gun registration in some circumstances. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) requires certain guns, such as machine guns, short-barreled rifles, and certain other weapons, must be registered with the ATF. When gun ownership changes, the registration of the owner of such firearms must also be changed with ATF. Similarly, some states require firearm registration.
If You Own Firearms, Estate Planning Is Essential
If you own firearms, estate planning is essential. There are steps that can be taken ahead of time to protect your loved ones and ensure that your wishes comply with state and federal law. Don’t leave this task to chance which might put your heirs at risk due to regulations they do not anticipate with an inheritance. Contact our office to discuss your estate planning goals.
At Doane & Doane, we look forward to discussing firearm ownership and inheritance with you. Often, such as in the case of gun ownership and inheritance, we find our clients are unaware of laws that may limit or prevent their wishes from being carried out as they intended. We work with our clients to find satisfactory, legal methods to ensure their wishes are met. Contact us today at (561) 656-0200 to discuss your estate plan and how we can help you to achieve your goals.