My last blog back on October 26, 2012, Probating Class 3 Firearms-Suggestions for the PR-Part 1, I described a hypothetical factual situation in which you acted as personal representative (executor) of your uncle’s estate and had to deal with certain firearms he possessed, particularly Class 3 (NFA) firearms, during the probate process. Now it’s time to review your performance as personal representative (PR). Your numerous violations of law, although unintentional, show the many legal risks involved due to your failure to get advice on a subject that you had little personal knowledge.
Here are some of the violations of applicable federal law:
1. You retained possession of the unregistered Class 3 (NFA) firearm (a contraband weapon), transferred possession of that contraband firearm to another person and had that contraband firearm transported across state lines. (The impending legal problems for your nephew’s friend is a separate issue not addressed here.)
2. As to the two registered Class 3 (NFA) firearms, you failed to file a ATF Form 5 to register each of those firearms in the name of your nephew. However, since your nephew had been convicted of, and imprisoned for, felony burglary charges, he is not eligible to have the firearms registered in his name and is not entitled to possess them, let alone transport them across state line. Your distribution of those registered Class 3 firearms to a person not entitled to possess and own them and knowing that he would be transporting them across state lines without proper ATF approval through ATF Form 5320.20 will further complicate your life. (The additional legal problems you have created for your nephew are not addressed here.)
What might you expect from your conduct and deficient performance as PR? Prison time and fines! I’m not my firm’s specialist in criminal law, but it appears there are numerous violations of 18 United States Code Sections 922 and 924 and 26 United States Code Section 5861. And to top it off, in this litigious age, you could easily be targeted in law suits by your nephew and his friend in Rhode Island for all of the subsequent legal problems you created for them.
What is the lesson here? If you are named as PR for an estate that possesses firearms, you need to determine what types of firearms are in the estate and obtain appropriate advice for dealing with them. If you are dealing with any Class 3 (NFA) firearms, you need to make sure you are adhering to governing federal and state statutes and regulations pertaining to the possession, transfer and transporting of said firearms to avoid serious criminal fines and imprisonment for yourself and potentially for the recipients.
Michael W. Margrave