Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Executors and beneficiaries

On this page

  1. Executors
  2. Beneficiaries
  3. Handguns and unwanted firearms


Estate law may vary from province to province. Generally, an executor has the same rights the deceased had to have firearms while the estate is being settled.

Even if you do not have a licence to have firearms, you can have a firearm left in an estate for a reasonable amount of time while the estate is being settled. If a court has prohibited you from possessing firearms, you cannot take possession of firearms left in an estate. But you are still able to act as executor and you can transfer the firearms to someone who can lawfully have them.

To act as the executor, and to get information on the estate firearms, you must provide the following documents to the Canadian Firearms Program:

Within a reasonable length of time, you must:

  • ensure the firearms are transferred and registered to a properly licensed individual or business; or
  • dispose of the firearms in a safe and lawful manner.

Until then, you must ensure that the firearms are safely stored.

You must also determine if a valid firearms licence and registration certificate exist. If either document does not exist at the time of death, the Canadian Firearms Program will work with you to resolve this situation.


To inherit a firearm, other than a handgun, you must:

  • be 18 years of age; and
  • hold a valid Possession and Acquisition Licence with the correct privileges (that is, non-restricted, restricted, prohibited).

You may not inherit a handgun unless you qualify for an exemption. Contact your Chief Firearms Officer for further information.

Handguns remaining in a decedent's estate must be lawfully disposed of (see "handguns and unwanted firearms", below).

Handguns and unwanted firearms

If there is no eligible beneficiary, or if the beneficiary does not wish to inherit a firearm, the estate may:

  • transfer the firearm to any person, museum, or business with a licence to acquire and possess that particular type of firearm; or
  • lawfully export it (contact Global Affairs Canada at by telephone at 1-343-203-4331, or by email at, for information); or
  • call the Canadian Firearms Program to get an approved gunsmith to deactivate it; this means it no longer meets the definition of a firearm, and is exempt from the requirements of the Firearms Act; or
  • turn the firearm in to a police officer or firearms officer for destruction; call first to arrange for disposal.


A handgun may only be transferred to an individual if the individual qualifies for an exemption. Contact your Chief Firearms Officer for further information.

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