Managing your shotguns and firearms after your death

Carlton Boyce / 02 November 2015

While no one likes to think about their own death, a little forward planning could help your loved ones deal more easily with the legal complexities that will result from your status as a firearm or shotgun certificate holder after you’ve gone.



While no one likes to think about their own death, a little forward planning could help your loved ones deal more easily with the legal complexities that will result from your status as a firearm or shotgun certificate holder after you’ve gone.

In the same way that we make a Will, shotgun or firearm licence holders need to consider what will happen to their firearms after they are gone. It won’t take you long and it will make the whole process simpler for your family or executors when the time comes.

Read our guide to inheriting a shotgun or firearm.

Write a letter

A simple letter covering less than half an A4 sheet of paper will be enormously helpful to anyone dealing with your estate. It needn’t be complex, but should include the following as a minimum:

  • Detail what firearms you hold, and their value including any purchase receipts. This will help keep track of what you own and how much each item is worth and might help prevent those disposing of them being ripped off by an unscrupulous dealer or auction house.

  • Include details of the licensing authority that issued the certificate, including contact details and the names of those you have dealt with. Include a copy of any firearm certificates you hold.

  • Suggest that your spouse or executor(s) apply for a temporary permit under section 7 of the Firearm Act. This will give them the legal authority to hold your weapons while they manage their disposal.

  • An alternative to a section 7 application is to transfer them to a registered firearm dealer or a friend who holds the appropriate firearm or shotgun licence. If this is your preferred option, include the relevant details in the letter.

  • Sign and date it and put it in an envelope marked: “To be opened in the event of my death”. Keep it with your will or in another place where it can be easily found.

What happens if you die without leaving a Will?

Your cabinet keys

You will be aware that your shotgun or firearm cabinet keys must be kept hidden and their location should not be revealed to anyone else. However, your spouse or executors will need them to open the cabinet after you’ve gone.

You need to strike a balance between hiding them securely and making their location obvious in the event of a determined search by those with a legitimate need to find them.

Simple steps I know, but important ones that might just save your loved ones a lot of frustration, confusion and anxiety at what will already be a very difficult time for them.  

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.