Firearm Owners Should Consider Gun Trusts

The Second Amendment is cherished in our country and millions of Americans are proud gun owners. So what will happen to your firearm when you pass away? The fact that is that a firearm is not your typical asset that can simply be transferred to a loved one. In fact, if you pass away without a will, there are federal transfer requirements that have to be satisfied before a loved one can take ownership of your firearm. For example, to transfer a registered firearm, the owner must get approval from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, along with paying a tax. However, there is an estate planning tool that can allow you to avoid some of these transfer requirements – a gun trust.

Gun trusts are usually utilized for weapons regulated by two federal laws: the National Firearms Act of 1934 and Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968. Weapons covered by these laws include grenades, machine guns, silencers, short-barreled rifles, and short-barreled shotguns, etc.. Listed below are just some of the many benefits Gun Trusts can provide.

Benefits of a Gun Trust:

1. Gun Trusts Allow you to give more than one person the ability to possess and use the firearms held in the trust

If you name more than one person as trustee, each trustee has the right to possess and/or use the firearms that are covered by federal law in the trust. For example, if a father left his guns in a trust he can allow of his children to use them verses having to divide up specific guns to individuals. If you don’t have a gun trust, only the registered owner of the firearm can possess or use the firearms.

2. Flexibility to keep the firearms in trust, even after the original owner passed away avoiding the usual transfer requirements

If you create a gun trust, you can arrange for the trust to stay in existence even after you pass away. The trustees and beneficiaries of the trust would have whatever rights you expressly grant to them in the trust even after your death. Because the firearm stays in the trust at your death, the transfer procedure set forth under the aforementioned federal laws are avoided.

3. Avoid the probate process

When firearms are held in a trust, they do not need to go through probate. Probate is the legal process of administering your estate, resolving all claims, and distributing your property. Probate can be costly and time consuming, but a properly setup Gun Trust can avoid this hassle for your loved ones.

4. Assist your executor by taking the firearms out of your will and putting them into a trust managed by a trustee

The executor of your estate (i.e. the person responsible for gathering your assets and distributing what’s left) may not be familiar with the rules about ownership and possession of weapons. There’s a risk that an unassuming executor could violate the law by transferring one of your firearms without going through the proper procedure, taking or sending it to a state where it is prohibited, or giving it to a person who is prohibited from owning a firearm. When you have a gun trust, the executor is not involved since a trustee is in charge of the trust. This means you can name a trustee who understands state and federal gun laws and can avoid possibly violating the law when passing the guns down to your loved ones.

For more information about gun trusts, consider speaking to an experienced estate planning attorney in your area.