View Full Version : Who owns guns when a death occurs?

11-07-2008, 8:02 AM
A few questions I'm not clear about:

1) My uncle died. I'm interested in helping my Aunt and Cousin sell a decent sized collection of guns (i think) so they can have badly needed funds (assuming they aren't keeping them all). Who immediately owns them (legally)? Are they my Aunt's or my cousin's? By possession, I mean who would be the person legally transfering them?

2) I'm headed up there (Sebastopol) and while there, I'll offer to help them sell guns if they are up for it. I'm going to try and talk at least my cousin into keeping some, one, or all but offer to help sell them here if they're ok with it. Is there someone here with a good eye for appraising various firearms (of which type i have no idea yet)? I'll be taking very detailed pictures if I can and try to catalog what I can..but I would like to know if someone (like ivanimal) might be ok reviewing my guestimates, pictures, and perhaps helping to price them out via email.

3) I'd assume my Aunt (the wife) gains ownership, and she can give any/some/all of them to her son (my cousin) and he'd be the owner. I'm guessing in order for either of them to sell/transfer any of the guns, they'd have to somehow detail the death of the owner and say they've assumed ownership of the guns on the DROS? The question being...does anyone know how the transfer/dros goes related to the seller and their assumed ownership status? Do other forms need to be completed before they can sell/transfer the guns?

Thanks. Again, I don't know what he has. MIght be just a few assorted guns, might be a friggen arsenal. I know my brother from Arizona will be up here soon to attempt to buy some and illegally take them without an FFL.

11-07-2008, 8:38 AM
I don't have time to reply right now but will get you squared away later today


11-07-2008, 8:41 AM
Excellent! Thanks for the help bill, and pm ajax!

11-07-2008, 11:57 AM
Unless the uncle had a will specifying something different, usually everything would go to his surviving spouse.

With a spouse and a child, his separate property splits 50/50 between spouse and child, but his half of community property goes to spouse only. (Probate Code 6400 (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=prob&group=06001-07000&file=6400-6414) - it's astonishing what Google will put up in less than a second!) What version of 'property' his guns may be, I have no idea.

That's one of those 'operation of law' things; presuming there are no California 'assault weapons', all the long guns transfer with no further action.

Handguns, again presuming no CA 'aws', need the operation of law form - $19 for all the handguns in the transfer.

No DROS or FFL involved in instate inheritance.

11-07-2008, 12:35 PM
Good information. Thanks for that Librarian. I think what I'm looking for is once someone becomes the legal owner (mom or son), "who" exactly does the transfer (as the seller) to a buyer after that? One reason I'm asking is if it's to be mom doing this, it's not going to happen..the only real hope I see is if the son takes the initiative, ships, or meets at an FFL, etc.

11-07-2008, 12:42 PM
If the total assets are not in trust and go into probate, depending on total estate value the assets will take a little time to clear through the probate process before they should be sold.

That is assuming a clear Last Will is in place and all runs smooth among beneficiaries.


11-07-2008, 12:50 PM
No will, no agreement, no probate will happen. They are as unprepared as you can get. Whatever default legal ownership occurs will take place.

11-07-2008, 1:41 PM
No will, no agreement, no probate will happen. They are as unprepared as you can get. Whatever default legal ownership occurs will take place.

If the guns were community property, looks like they go to the wife.

And likely the only way the guns are NOT community property is if they had a written agreement to divide things that way, which I sense is not the case (since no will). That would be pretty unusual below the pre-nuptial-agreement level.

Another way the guns could be separate property is if they were purchased with his separate property. An inheritance is almost always separate property (there might be exceptions, I dunno). So, for example, if Uncle's father left him a specific $50,000, wife would have had no claim on it as community property. He could have taken that and bought guns, which would also be separate property.

But even at that, it looks like half the separate property would go to the wife.

Sad time to deal with this stuff; my condolences.

11-07-2008, 1:52 PM
Thanks. Yeah, i'm actually more worried about my cousin and what he'll do. It's pretty grim up there. Uncle was home, on oxygen and on near bed rest for earlier heart condition, living off his pension and insurance was payin the medical bill thank goodness. BUt Aunt was not working, is collecting disability. Mortgage to the hilt (refied all equity away), now no pension to pay bills, son (my cousin) is thirty something and living at home. I'm going up to give him my best "man-up" speech because it's time he be the man of the house, take care of his momma, and since i lost my dad when i was 16, and he was there, i too will be there for him..and tell him the things i know I did wrong when i was a kid..etc, etc. I only thought of them selling guns to make some ends meet, maybe recoup money spent on funeral. Pretty sad stuff. Wish I had been a part of their lives more.

11-07-2008, 2:34 PM
Depending on what guns they have I may be of some small help. I live just north and have dealt with most of the local dealers around the area.