Recently, many states across the country have been adopting gun law changes. Some of these new laws may affect how firearms are managed after the gun owner passes away. Although the Southern Gun Law Group services North Carolina, Tennessee and Florida*, new legislation in other states may set a precedence that could be followed in jurisdictions of the South.
New York recently enacted the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013. (Also known as the SAFE Act.) This new legislation amended the Surrogate Court’s Procedure Act and now requires the filing of a “Firearms Inventory.” The Firearms Inventory must be filed with the Inventory of Assets of every estate in addition to being filed with the Division of Criminal Justice Services.
The Firearms Inventory form details the make, model, caliber range, and value of each firearm left by the decedent, as well as documents serial numbers. Currently the inventories are not available by a public search and can only be accessed if an individual makes a specific request. The value of firearms noted on the inventory will be included to determine the date of death value of the decedent’s entire assets for estate tax purposes.
This law obviously creates a lack of privacy for gun owners and their families, and makes future seizure by authorities much easier. Individuals avoid these issues, however, by using a gun trust to “own” their weapons. No probate is required with trust assets, meaning the probate court has no jurisdiction over the assets or trustee. Gun trusts also have many other advantages, even in gun “unfriendly” states like New York. Click here to compare the features of Gun Trusts versus standard living trusts.
*Southern Gun Law Group’s Principal, Gregory Herman-Giddens, is also licensed in and maintains an office in New York.