Inheriting Firearms in California

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Inheriting Firearms in California

Inheriting Firearms

Money, collectibles, property, there are many different things that heirs can inherit from their loved ones after they pass. Typically, if you are the recipient of some type of inheritance your immediate concern may be what type of tax ramifications you will have to worry about. However, there are other legal matters to be concerned with in the case of inheriting firearms.

What the Law Says About Inheriting Firearms

In California, it is legal to both own firearms are transfer ownership of firearms between immediate family members. Typically, if you were to purchase a gun at a store, you would be required to take certain steps to complete your transaction with a firearms dealer. However, if you receive a gun as a gift, by bequest, or by intestate (if your loved one did not have a will), you are exempt from going through this same process to legally obtain ownership of your firearms.

For the transfer of gun ownership to qualify for an exemption of the use of a certified firearms dealer, it must be made between immediate family members. It’s important to understand what the law recognizes as an “immediate family member”. In this case, it includes the following people in relation to the deceased:

  • Parent
  • Grandparent
  • Child
  • Grandchild
  • Sibling

If you do not qualify as an immediate family member, for example, if your uncle left you a gun in their will, then you may need to go through a firearms dealer to properly transfer ownership of the gun to you. The administrator of your loved one’s estate will likely help with the transaction between you and a firearms dealer that is licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

It’s important to note that in the event that the gun must cross state lines because you live a different state than the deceased did, there are other federal laws that may come into play. It’s important that you make sure you follow the law to properly obtain ownership of your inherited firearm. Failure to do so could result in penalties of up to ten thousand dollars or even time in prison.

Generally, it will be the responsibility of the executor of the estate of the original owner to secure the firearms as quickly as possible after a person has passed. They will be tasked with making sure that the firearms are transferred and registered legally. However, if you have questions about what actions are required on your part to take possession of your inheritance, it’s best that you seek the help of a qualified estate attorney. It’s better to be safe than sorry as improperly obtaining any sort of firearms has serious legal consequences no matter what state you live in.

At Derryberry & Associates, we counsel our clients on all matters of estate law including inheritance, probate law, and estate planning. Whether you’re heir to some else’s estate, or if you want to make plans for the future of your own estate, our team of experienced attorneys is here to help.