This is the second part in a three-part series on California estate planning for special assets. See the first post on ART HERE.

Firearms have typically been treated as tangible personal property in California estate planning. As gun control laws become more complex and the types of firearms become more extreme, it is imperative that you and your estate planner discuss any firearms you may own. Whether you own a single gun for protection of your home, collect hunting rifles or antique revolvers, these laws and regulations will apply to you. 

As with all personal property, but particularly with a firearm, after the death of the owner it is imperative that the Executor/Trustee immediately locate and secure firearms. The Trustee must determine if the firearms were legally registered to the decedent and then a professional inventory and appraisal of the firearms must be conducted. 

After the preliminary work has been completed the Trustee should work with a gun dealer licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and make sure the named Beneficiaries are capable of obtaining a firearm safety certificate. If the firearm must cross state lines to be delivered to the intended beneficiary, federal laws such as the National Firearms Act (NFA) and the Gun Control Act (GCA) will apply. Failure to comply with the NFA or GCA subjects the estate to penalties as severe as ten thousand dollars or ten years in prison. 

If you own firearms that will present some of the issues listed here, consider having an inventory and appraisal done during your life and talking to friends and family, as well as an experienced estate planner, about what your intent is for ownership of those firearms after your death. You may even consider executing a Gun Trust so that you can nominate a qualified and knowledgable Trustee to administer the firearms in your estate. 

As always, this blog post is not meant to be legal advice for any particular situation. Consult with an experienced estate planner to discuss these issues. 

Happy Planning!