// Keep your executor out of trouble
// Know the laws about specific firearms
// Valuation: know what you have
// Know how to transfer guns to beneficiaries
// Know your rights


Would you think of asking your executor if he or she had a police record?

As a gun owner, you need to know this to avoid potentially serious problems.

Federal Law: The mere possession of any type of firearm or ammunition by a "prohibited person" is a Federal crime. There is no exception for executors and trustees. The statute contains a long list of "disqualifiers" including:

  • Conviction in any court of a crime punishable by more than a year in prison
  • Being an unlawful drug user
  • Having been discharged from the armed forces under dishonorable conditions
  • Having been convicted of a misdemeanor involving domestic violence

Connecticut Law:Our State law is even tougher than the Federal law. For example, if your executor had been convicted—even as a juvenile—of crimes including selling drugs or misconduct with a motor vehicle, he or she cannot legally possess any firearm. There are further restrictions regarding handguns.


"NFA Weapons"
Machine guns, short barreled rifles and shotguns and certain other items are subject to the National Firearms Act (NFA). This includes so-called "deactivated war trophies" which, although rendered incapable of firing, are still "NFA weapons." The mere possession of these items by anyone who doesn't have the appropriate documentation (not just convicted criminals) is a federal crime. Ignorance of the law is not a defense.

Your executor must have the registration and tax documents for all NFA items. Without them your executor could be prosecuted.

"So-Called "Assault Weapons"
"Watch it now, Watch it, It's Gonna Get You" - - Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs: Wooly Bully.

"Assault Weapon" is a political and journalistic term. A true assault rifle is a fully automatic military weapon and is an NFA item. Special authorization from the BATF is required to possess one.

So-called assault weapons are highly regulated under Connecticut law. The statutes are complex and present traps for the unwary.

The statutes generally prohibit the lifetime transfer of so-called assault weapons. However, transfers at death are permitted if you religiously follow the rules. If the owner had a “certificate of possession” for them, they can be lawfully transferred by will, by intestate succession or from a trust. Note: So-called assault weapons can no longer be lawfully transferred to trusts during lifetime.

Because the statute uses the word “executor,” so-called assault weapons cannot be transferred under the “small estate” procedure. The executor will have to open a full estate in the probate court and obtain a decree transferring the items to the beneficiaries.


Sometimes, the difference between a valuable item and a "shooter" is, in the words of one Supreme Court justice, an "attenuated subtlety."

Example: The Government had a huge number of .45 pistols manufactured during World War II. Industries rapidly converted from producing consumer goods to manufacturing pistols.

Would your executor know the difference between pistol made by Remington Rand and one manufactured by Singer Sewing Machine? The difference could be as much s $200,000. An executor's failure to obtain proper appraisals can be costly.

The Appraisal Dilemma: Your executor must determine the value of all of your assets. Finding a competent appraiser is no more difficult with firearms than with any other type of asset. However, you can face complications. Imagine your executor bringing Aunt Hazel's china to an appraiser and being told that he or she could not get it back. Sound farfetched? Consider the following scenario:

Your executor delivers your guns to a dealer to have them appraised. The dealer gives your executor an opinion of value, and says that he will accept them for sale on a consignment basis. Your executor later wants to obtain a "second opinion" and wants to take your guns to another dealer. The first dealer refuses to give them back. What can the executor do? Nothing. The dealer has done nothing wrong. He is simply following the law.

Under Connecticut law, guns may only be lawfully "transferred" (sold or given) to a dealer, or to a person with a pistol permit or an eligibility certificate. Re-delivery to an unlicensed person by a dealer is a transfer within the statute. Once a gun is in the dealer's possession, your executor's only options would be to consign it to that dealer or sell it to him outright. Your executor cannot get it back.

Solution: An executor should have the dealer come to him or her. The dealer can examine the gun, take pictures of your guns and give the executor an estimate of their value. As long as the guns do not leave the executor's possession there is no problem.


In State: The only people to whom you may lawfully transfer (sell or give) a handgun in Connecticut are those with pistol permits or eligibility certificates. In addition, all transfers must be in compliance with the state statutes.

So-Called "Assault Weapons": If you have a “certificate of possession,” they can be transferred under your will or by intestate succession through the Probate Court.

Out of State: Suppose you want to, or have to, transfer firearms to a beneficiary in another state? What do you do? Give them to the beneficiary while he is in Connecticut, so that he may drive home with them? No. Send them by UPS? No. You need to have them transferred by a dealer in Connecticut to a dealer in the recipient state. That is the only absolutely safe way to effectuate an out of state transfer.


Firearms are one of the most heavily regulated products in the country.

Federal, state and local statutes and regulations can easily make criminals out of uninformed executors and trustees.

Sometimes nearly imperceptible differences can separate a perfectly legal firearm from a prohibited one. These subtleties can also have a major effect on value.

Make sure that your executor is not prohibited from possessing firearms. You need to speak with your executor in advance to make sure that he or she is not only legally qualified, but would be comfortable dealing with your guns. You should also talk with your executor about the value of your collection.