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Many people are lawful owners of firearms. And if you are the lucky inheritor of a firearm in the state of California, it is your responsibility to ensure the transfer is handled legally - within the scope of state and federal laws. Interestingly enough, rules regarding such transfers largely depend on your relationship to the testator and the type of firearm bequeathed.

In today's episode, Kirsten Howe, founder of Absolute Trust Counsel and the Absolute Trust Talk podcast is excited to welcome associate attorney Joseph Fenton of Campbell Green LLP to the show. While Joseph represents clients in probate, trust administration and litigation, protected proceedings, and elder law, he also has unique expertise in the laws governing ownership and transfer of firearms.

Here's a link to the interview >.

Unlike other assets you list in your estate plan, you might not be able to simply give a beneficiary a firearm, even if it's been legally documented. Joseph and Kirsten discuss the specific rules that need to be followed to properly transfer firearms in the state of California and how firearms are included in an estate plan. Joseph also defines the many potential problems that could arise, and the careful consideration that needs to be made when the executor is handling the firearm.

Whether you are a gun owner, a family member of someone who is, or the representative of an estate that involves a firearm, this podcast is the resource you need to make sure all processes and procedures remain compliant with the necessary laws.

Big Three from Episode #031:
  1. If you have firearms and believe in the right of firearm ownership for whatever reason, and you want to pass your firearms on, it's essential to understand that you must legally do so. And if you can't legally do so, you shouldn't try to work around the law. It's to the benefit to all who enjoy firearm ownership to realize that we have to follow specific rules.
  2. Always have your Firearms Safety Certificate. If you don't have one, take the test. It is a simple test that anyone can pass. Anyone and everyone who touches a firearm in California should already have this!
  3. If you don't know how to handle or proceed with a firearm, seek help.
Time-stamped Show Notes:
3:48 - What is the key difference in these terms - firearms vs. guns?
4:03 - What rules do you need to follow to transfer firearms in California?
4:21 - Where do firearms fall into an estate plan? How should it be included?
5:26 - Joseph recommends using this specific language as a "plan B" if a firearm can't transfer as planned.
6:38 - What is a gun trust? What is the problem with gun trusts in California?
8:51 - So, what happens to firearms after someone passes away?
10:25 - As soon as you recognize a firearm is included in an estate, you should first do this before proceeding.
11:51 - How should one go about securing a firearm? NOTE: You CANNOT learn this on the Internet!
12:34 - Joseph discusses the importance of cataloging the firearms that are part of the estate.
13:57 - It's important to recognize the places you cannot have firearms stored.
14:40 - Is a preowned gun worth less than a new one?
17:12 - What four things do you have to do to get rid of an assault weapon when someone passes away?
20:26 - These documents from the Bureau of Firearms will aid you in transferring firearms, other than assault weapons.
20:40 - What happens if you find evidence of firearms but you cannot locate them?
24:20 - How do you properly transfer firearms to another person?
26:30 - How do you transfer firearms specifically to the immediate family that has a right to own them?
29:04 - So, what happens to the gun after transfer?

Episode #031 Freebie:
Are you an executor of an estate that includes a firearm? While they do require special consideration, it is possible to safely and legally transfer possession. Normally the transfer of gun ownership is handled by a Federal Firearm Licensed (FFL) dealer. The gun is held by the dealer during the mandatory 10-day waiting period and the parties are required to complete a Dealer's Record of Sale (DROS). That initiates a background check with the state Department of Justice. In addition, gun purchasers are required to secure a Firearm Safety Certificate before taking possession of the gun. However, those rules do not apply to the transfer of a firearm by gift, bequest, intestate succession, or other means if specific requirements are met.

Click here to download your FREE copy of Stick to Your Guns: How to Handle Firearms in an Estate checklist to understand what these requirements are and to help get the process started. If you're new or inexperienced with handling firearms, then you'll definitely want to have this resource on hand.

Resources/Tools/Links Mentioned in This Episode:
CA Department of Justice: https://oag.ca.gov/firearms
The Following Forms Mentioned in This Episode Can Be Found Here: https://oag.ca.gov/firearms/forms
  • Bureau of Firearms Form 53 - Automated Firearms Request Form
  • Bureau of Firearms Form 4546 - Notice of No longer in Possession
  • Bureau of Firearms Form 116 - Personal Firearms Eligibility Form
  • Bureau of Firearms Form 4544A - Interfamilial Transfer Form
Firearms Safety Certificate Program FAQs: https://oag.ca.gov/firearms/fscpfaqs
Blog Post: https://absolutetrustcounsel.com/california-regulates-the-inheritance-of-guns
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