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Many clients own handguns as part of their estates, and want to ensure those handguns are transferred to family members who will appreciate the gift. However, they have concerns about whether the intended recipient is able to get a license for the gun, or they are worried about how an out-of-state resident will obtain the necessary paperwork to transport the gun back to his home state.

How does the new law help?

The Michigan Legislature recently addressed some of these very concerns. The Firearm Inheritance Protection Act states that a person who inherits a pistol must obtain a license within 30 days of TAKING POSSESSION of the pistol. However, the license does not have to be signed by the person who is actually inheriting the pistol. The next of kin, or the person authorized by law to dispose of the decedent's property, such as the personal representative of the estate, can complete and sign the license for the heir.

What if the heir can't get a license?

If the heir does not qualify for a license, he can decide how to dispose of the pistol. The person who is authorized by law to dispose of property is NOT required to obtain a license, so long as he takes temporary possession of the pistol in order to dispose of it, or to find lawful storage for it. The police cannot seize or confiscate a pistol in that situation. If the pistol is seized, it cannot be destroyed, sold or used until 30 days after the heir receives notice. This allows the family time to remedy the situation and get the pistol returned.

If an out-of-state resident inherits a pistol, he does not have to get a Michigan license for it, if ALL of the following apply:

  • He has a license in his home state
  • He has his license with him
  • He is the rightful owner of the pistol
  • He possesses the pistol for a lawful purpose
  • He is in Michigan for 180 days or less and does not intend to establish residency in Michigan. 


The law also includes provisions for minors who inherit pistols and for non-owners to use a pistol at a recognized target range or shooting facility.