Guide to Bequeathing Firearms

Bequeathing Firearms & Where to Start

What happens once a loved one passes and leaves behind their firearms? What happens once you’re bequeathed firearms by a family member? Answering these questions can be much more complicated and nuanced than one may think.

There are several federal laws that establish rules for bequeathing firearms. Besides laws that deal with regulation, there are other factors that you may need to consider, especially if you’re a new gun owner. Certain situations may prevent you from inheriting a firearm, like if you or somebody in your household has been convicted of a felony.

The type of firearm is also a factor to consider. The National Firearms Act (NFA) is a federal law that classifies and regulates guns. Title I weapons like semi-auto pistols make up a majority of owned guns in the U.S., and involve less regulation. Title II weapons like full-auto guns face much more regulation across the board.

There are also laws and regulations that come into play on a state and local level. It’s usually best to seek out a person or business with a Federal Firearm License (FFL). That way, you can undergo required background checks to make life easier down the line.

Some states may require additional steps for the registration of Title I weapons. Stay up-to-date on your local laws to reduce the hassle of the bequeathing process.

Registration & Inventories

If a friend or family member bequeaths firearms to you, there are several responsibilities that you will take on once they pass. There are several things you can do to make the transition easier for their estate. First, look for documents that verify the gun’s ownership.

Titles, registration, and receipts can all help you prove and establish ownership. Title II weapons should especially have paperwork verifying their registration. That’s because the NFA requires the registration of all Title II weapons, regardless of what state you live in.

As the executor of an estate, you may have to file an inventory of the probate estate. A probate inventory is a public document filed with a court that lists all the firearms owned by an estate.

You’ll also want to get inherited firearms appraised before deciding what to do next. This can help you decide whether your gun is worth selling or keeping.

Gun Trusts

Setting up a gun trust is a great way to ensure that your firearms are easily inherited by your own estate one day. While guns can be added to a person’s will, creating a gun trust is often a more convenient option for passing on firearms. Be advised that it’s best to seek legal counsel when putting together either of these documents, just to be sure that no legal trouble comes your way later.

When a trust owns firearms, a probate estate doesn’t have to be publicly filed. A gun trust can strengthen your privacy by preventing your firearms — and their market value — from being available to the public.

A gun trust is also helpful in case you find yourself suddenly out of commission. When you establish a gun trust, your trustees can take possession of your firearms according to the wishes laid out in the document.

While it takes money to create a gun trust, think of it as a money-saving move in the long run. Making a trust is usually cheaper than the legal fees that come with managing uncertain estates.

Firearms at Auction

If you have inherited firearms that you don’t plan to keep, why not bring those guns to auction?

Consigning firearms is a great way to add to your bottom line while helping others get more use out of your gun. At Compass, you can sell your gun in less than a month!

If you’re interested in consigning firearms, contact Compass today! Every month, we hold at least one Firearms Auction and one Ammo & Accessories Auction. Be sure to check out our Auction Calendar to learn more!

For more information, email or call 800-729-6466.