Posthumous Firearms Estate Planning

Planning for all aspects of posthumous distribution is imperative within your estate planning.

California Gun Laws

Compared with most other states, California has restrictive gun laws.  When relocating to California, persons must register their firearms with the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Firearms.  A $19 fee is required.  Also, handguns must be transported in a locked container. Most assault weapons are not permitted to be transported into California, as the state has banned high capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

To purchase firearms in California, it is required to be a state resident, pass a handgun safety course, and undergo a stringent background check, regardless of whether purchase is from an individual or a dealer. All handguns and “assault weapons” must be registered with the state.

After Passing On

Bequeathing restricted Dangerous Weapons to a friend or relative Is strictly controlled.  The heir must obtain a Dangerous Weapons Permit, as well as qualify for ownership under a lengthy list of requirements in California to own firearms.

Weapons considered less restricted can be more easily transferred, but must requires a licensed firearm dealer and a background check.

Weapons that are considered relics or antiques, however, can be transferred without going through a licensed firearm dealer.

Certain persons may not own or purchase firearms:  Persons who are convicted of a felony or of a violent crimes (even if a misdemeanor), persons who are mentally incompetent, and persons who are substance dependent.

Firearm Estate Planning California

The posthumous transfer of firearm should be done through a licensed firearms dealer. It may also be beneficial to pay for background checks ahead of time. Heirs must wait 10 days after a successful background check to collect the firearms from the dealer. Recipients must also complete the gun safety course prior to firearm receipt. If the firearm is being transferred to an heir out of state, the transfer must be handled by both an instate and out of state licensed firearm dealer.

Contact the Law Office of Dennis Fordham who is a trusted Lake County estate planning attorney to help guide you.


“Serving Lake and Mendocino Counties for nineteen years, the Law Office of Dennis Fordham focuses on legacy and estate planning, trust and probate administration, and special needs planning. We are here for you. 870 South Main Street Lakeport, California 95453-4801. Phone: 707-263-3235.”