Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
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    Default Inheritance Question and State Police Advice - Friend Needs Help

    A friend’s father committed suicide by gun. His only living relative is his son – my friend. He owns a number of guns and left a will where he stated that his girlfriend is to receive his guns. He and his father were estranged and only talked once or twice a year.

    Meanwhile, since my friend is the only next of kin, he is dealing with funeral arrangements, police, coroner, etc. During the interview at the death site, the state police told my friend that as next of kin, he could pick up the suicide weapon at the barracks. My friend told the police that dad has a number of long guns and pistols and that the girlfriend had told him (the son) that the father’s states all personal property is to go to the girlfriend.

    The police told my friend that the girlfriend could not take possession of the guns as they automatically pass to the wife, son, or daughter in PA. That means my friend - the son. He further told him that if he wanted the girlfriend to have them, he would have to gift them to the girlfriend through an FFL but right now my friend is the legal owner of the guns and he can immediately take possession and remove them from the home.

    My friend would like to have the guns. He shoots and he also would like to recoup some costs he is incurring with handling the death, funeral, etc. He’s also never seen the will other than having the girlfriend read part of the will to my friend and all it says is that the girlfriend is to inherit all personal property. There is no itemization of property and no mention of guns. Just, “girlfriend gets it all.”

    Is the state police correct? Can he take the guns now? Does the girlfriend have a claim due to the will? While he is willing to get a lawyer involved, he wants to to know if the state police was correct. And, if not, what does the law say?. He doesn’t want to poke the bear but only do what is legal. Thanks.


    "The best way to end up mediocre is via tiny compromises."

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Inheritance Question and State Police Advice - Friend Needs Help

    This really isn't the place to get solid information on that but...I can relate to that estranged father/son thing and I'd be mighty tempted to do what the PSP told me to do and tell the G/F to have at it, including the burial.
    If it ain't broke it ain't mine.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Inheritance Question and State Police Advice - Friend Needs Help

    The will names the executor, and right now that named person is in charge of the estate and is responsible for executing the wishes of the deceased. The executor is the only person who has legal access to the firearms and other estate assets until such time that he or she begins to distributing the decedent's property in accordance with the terms of the latest dated will, after the will is recorded and the executor is sworn in by the county Recorder (Prothonotary). If the will truly says the GF gets the firearms, legally she gets the firearms.

    Noah
    I dream of an America where a chicken can cross the road without having its motives questioned.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Inheritance Question and State Police Advice - Friend Needs Help

    Quote Originally Posted by Noah_Zark View Post
    The will names the executor, and right now that named person is in charge of the estate and is responsible for executing the wishes of the deceased. The executor is the only person who has legal access to the firearms and other estate assets until such time that he or she begins to distributing the decedent's property in accordance with the terms of the latest dated will, after the will is recorded and the executor is sworn in by the county Recorder (Prothonotary). If the will truly says the GF gets the firearms, legally she gets the firearms.

    Noah
    My take was the will, if it indeed is notarized, legal, etc, take priority as you have stated. As much as he wanted to follow the SP advice and walk out of the house with them, I suggested he needs to take a breath. If the girlfriend now owns them all, then maybe my friend can negotiate one or more.

    Thanks Noah.


    "The best way to end up mediocre is via tiny compromises."

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Inheritance Question and State Police Advice - Friend Needs Help

    Quote Originally Posted by Noah_Zark View Post
    The will names the executor, and right now that named person is in charge of the estate and is responsible for executing the wishes of the deceased. The executor is the only person who has legal access to the firearms and other estate assets until such time that he or she begins to distributing the decedent's property in accordance with the terms of the latest dated will, after the will is recorded and the executor is sworn in by the county Recorder (Prothonotary). If the will truly says the GF gets the firearms, legally she gets the firearms.

    Noah
    Exactly.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Inheritance Question and State Police Advice - Friend Needs Help

    I am talking out of my ass here, but my head goes to liability.
    If I were in his shoes, I would buy an hour of a lawyers time to discuss this.
    If the Will exists and IF it's executed, then it sounds like she owns them.
    I would want a copy of the executed will as proof they they are not mine, in the case they are involved in some future illegal activity.
    AND If they are hers, he should not take possession of the one the cops have.
    Regarding the money to take care of the cleanup, why is he even involved?
    It always surprises me when someone get into a after death cleanup of a family when the family was just an acquaintance.

    If on the other hand if the Will is nonexistent, and never executed, then he most likey owns the guns. And there is evidence that he knows they are there. SOOO if he knowingly leaves them behind and again they are used in a future illicit activity, well he can be liable.

    I would play all nice with the girlfriend, get a copy of the executed will and then walk away.
    If not, I would try to use the police to serve and eviction notice and and find all the guns you can.
    The other problem is, if he has no idea the exact inventory of guns, then he can never be sure all of HIS guns are accounted for.
    Paranoid I know.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Inheritance Question and State Police Advice - Friend Needs Help

    Quote Originally Posted by JDshoots View Post
    I am talking out of my ass here . . .

    If on the other hand if the Will is nonexistent, and never executed, then he most likey owns the guns.
    Your first statement quoted above is 100% true.

    The second statement is incorrect. If a will does not exist (the decedent died intestate), or the will was not signed and notarized and is contested, then the estate goes through probate. Most estates with a properly prepared and executed will go through probate anyway without much ado, unless the estate assets are held in trust, in which case the estate can bypass probate.

    If the decedant died intestate, the court appoints an executor, usually a local attorney, to act on behalf of he estate and be compensated from the proceeds of the assets of the estate. The court conducts hearing(s) and listens to the claims made by interested relatives and other parties and decides how and to whom the assets are to be distributed, but in many cases the estate proceeds go to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

    I'm generalizing a lot here, but if there's no will, the guns are nobody's until the probate court says so.

    IANAL, but I've had the misfortune of being a frequent flyer executor, and it's ALWAYS a PITA, even with a trust. Just varying degrees of a PITA.

    MORAL: Have a properly drawn up and executed will, with the original or certified copy accessible to the executor. And go a step further and have your assets in a revocable trust. It makes things for your heirs SO much easier.

    Noah
    I dream of an America where a chicken can cross the road without having its motives questioned.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Inheritance Question and State Police Advice - Friend Needs Help

    Thank you for your responses.


    "The best way to end up mediocre is via tiny compromises."

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Inheritance Question and State Police Advice - Friend Needs Help

    It never hurts to have a lawyer deal with legal matters. Estates almost always get ugly.

    But generally, no, Pennsylvania doesn't have some law that trumps a valid Will when it comes to guns. If the Will names an Executor, and the Will has been submitted to the Register of Wills and is not contested, then the Executor takes possession of all property, uses it to pay the debts and estate expenses and taxes, and if there's anything left, the heirs get it in accordance with the Will.

    The only caveat is if the Will says "my nephew the felon gets my guns" or otherwise specifies an unlawful act. If the named heir is ineligible to get the bequest, they don't get that bequest. If the girlfriend is a prohibited person then she is still prohibited no matter what the Will says, just like you can't use a trust to make a new post-86 MG and possess it as a non-SOT individual. Some things are just common sense.

    You can see whatever's on file with the Register of Wills. If the GF is using the Will as a weapon, then make sure it's a valid Will. PA has some requirements for valid Wills.
    Attorney Phil Kline, AKA gunlawyer001@gmail.com
    Ungawa's M16A1 is for sale, see the NFA ads! http://forum.pafoa.org/showthread.ph...06#post3835606

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Inheritance Question and State Police Advice - Friend Needs Help

    Quote Originally Posted by GunLawyer001 View Post
    .... If the Will names an Executor, and the Will has been submitted to the Register of Wills and is not contested, then the Executor takes possession of all property, ...
    Of course I default to the above contributorS. My concerns were the next of kin kind of stuff, If there is NO will, then what? And with this guy getting involved what's his liability? I mean the girlfriend said there is one, but ....

    Noah, you say if there is no will the state appoints an executor, what, if people disagree? I mean if both parties just walk away from it what then?

    Inquiring mind's would like to know
    Last edited by JDshoots; August 11th, 2018 at 03:12 PM.

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