My step-dad gave my son who is 24 years old and is eligible to own a gun legally all of his guns before he died. This includes several shotguns, rifles and handguns. He died with no will. My son was also his power of attorney. We may have to sell a couple of these guns to help pay for my step-dad's final arrangements. What should we know regarding legal ownership and the sale of these guns?

  • The title is somewhat misleading as the body of the question indicates that the guns were transferred during life as a gift, rather than inherited. – ohwilleke Jan 31 '18 at 23:58

There are really two questions embedded in this situation.

The first would be no different if the property in question were cigars instead of guns. If the stepdad really and truly gave the cigars to his stepson before he died, then that is the end of the story. The presence or absence of a will, and the existence of a power of attorney (which terminates upon death by operation of law) is irrelevant. The question seems to imply that there is some doubt about whether the gift of that property really happened, however. In that regard, it is worth noting that if the gift was made by the step-son using the power of attorney to make a gift to himself, that the transfer may have been invalid since most powers of attorney do not confer the power to make gifts.

The second question, which isn't completely unrelated, concerns issues particular to firearms regulation.

The first sub-question (which the question seems to assume has happened, but which is probably behind some of the uncertainty over whether the guns were actually given as a gift), is whether the stepfather actually complied with any paperwork required in Florida to transfer a gun by lifetime gift to someone entitled to own a gun.

The second sub-question is what is necessary for a legal owner of a firearm to sell a firearm to someone else in Florida.

The answer to these questions is that neither the gift nor a private sale of a firearm must be registered or documented in any particular way comparable to what a gun dealer must do in terms of background checks and record keeping in a commercial sale of a firearm in Florida. But, better practice is to document a sale with a writing to prove that it took place and to make clear that the seller no longer owned the gun as of the documented date in case it is used in a crime.

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