As an avid collector of guns and weapons, that’s something that makes you unique to your friends and family. As you work on your estate plan, you need to consider how you will handle the distribution of those assets, since they do have some special rules that may apply to them.
You may be surprised to know that there are some variances in the rules on how you pass on long guns versus pistols or other weapons. While you do have your Second Amendment rights in place to protect the ownership of these items, you may be surprised to know that the New York State Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, or SAFE Act, could negatively impact your ability to pass those items on.
What does the SAFE Act do?
According to the SAFE Act, your guns all have to be disposed of nearly immediately even if they are specifically passed to another person in your will. With the additional of another act, the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, your estate fiduciary will need to provide a full inventory of the firearms (though there is an exception for antiques).
After all this is done, the firearms inventory has to be locked away in a secure location away from the public estate file. It isn’t even technically able to be inspected except by those who are involved in the estate proceeding or those who get special court permission.
This kind of issue is very specific to New York, which is why you need to think carefully about how you’d like to transfer your firearms after your death in advance. There may be options that will help you plan for their transfer to avoid losing your firearms or running into a problem where a potential heir cannot obtain the weapon you’d like to pass on.
One such option may be to look into using a gun trust or passing on the firearms during your lifetime to make sure they stay in your family or go to the charity that you have selected. This is something to discuss with your attorney, as the rules for gun transfers are specific.