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Family to destroy millions of dollars in inherited weapons, ammo

The estate of a Pacific Palisades man who died last summer without a will is making news. However, it's not because family members are battling with each other over his money (some $250,000 in cash alone) or other assets.

The story has garnered media attention because the family has announced that it plans to destroy millions of dollars in firearms and ammunition that he had accumulated. The stockpile included over 1,500 guns and 6.5 tons of ammunition, all purchased legally.

However, according to an attorney for the family, they want no part of them. He says, "They want these instruments of death to be destroyed. They don't want [them] out on the street." He says that they made the decision to destroy the stockpile rather than sell them and potentially make millions of dollars because "[t]hey don't want them to contribute to the carnage. Especially in light of San Bernardino and Orlando, as ordinary citizens they feel like a stand should be taken."

The attorney said that the family hopes to send a message to elected leaders at a time when gun control is being hotly debated in Congress, and proposed gun safety measures have been voted down.

The inheritance is still being litigated. Since there was no will, his closest relatives would be the heirs to his estate.

Although the 60-year-old man's death last July was determined to have been from natural causes, the circumstances around it, just like those surrounding his life, were strange. His decomposing body was found in his SUV in a Bristol Farms parking lot in Santa Monica. He had reportedly told neighbors as well as a woman identified as his fiance that he had worked for the CIA or other government agencies.

While this is certainly an unusual case and an unusual person, it actually does hold a lesson for everyone. If you have particular wishes for how your assets should be used, distributed or donated after your death, it's important to specify that in your will. Your estate plan provides you the ability to ensure that your intentions, plans and wishes are carried out when you're no longer around.

Source: ABC News, "Family Plans to Destroy Stockpile of Inherited Guns and Ammo Worth Millions, Lawyer Says," Catherine Thorbecke, June 22, 2016

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