Arm Your Firearms for the Future: An Overview of “Gun Trusts”

Transferring a gun is not like gifting or bequeathing other property. Only certain people are qualified to own guns due to both state and federal laws and regulations. Because of this, transferring a gun through your estate requires special considerations.

Passing Guns Through Your Estate

The National Firearms Act (NFA) applies to machine guns, silencers, short-barreled shotguns, short-barreled rifles, and other destructive devices. These weapons must usually be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF or BATF), and the gun owner has to go through a background check and provide other information to own the firearm.

Only the registered owner can legally possess the firearm. Transferring a registered firearm requires approval from the ATF and up to a $200 tax.

When you leave a gun to a loved one, the loved one has not undergone these required safety precautions, which means that their possession of the firearm could be illegal. That also means that leaving a gun to a loved one without the proper legal channels could essentially force them to unknowingly commit a crime. They can be charged with the unlawful possession of a firearm and may even have to suffer through jail time. This can be addressed by hiring an experienced attorney like Bill O’Leary to create a gun trust.

Benefits of Using a Gun Trust

Holding your gun in a trust can have several advantages, many of which have to do with the transfer and registration requirements of NFA weapons.

  1. Allow more than one person to use and possess the weapons in a trust. If you hold your firearms in trust, you can name more than one person as the trustee. Each trustee of the gun trust has the right to possess and use the firearm, both while you are alive and after you have passed.
  2. You may be able to avoid transfer requirements. By keeping your guns in a trust, you may be able to avoid traditional transfer requirements set out by the ATF. This generally includes the obligation to pay the transfer tax and file forms with the ATF.
  3. Avoid problems with gun transfers after your passing. Your executor may not realize that there are specific laws that apply to transferring firearms, and he or she may transfer a gun without considering the legal consequences for your beneficiaries. Having a gun trust already set up avoids these problems entirely.
  4. Avoid probate. Having a gun trust allows you to transfer firearms without going through the probate process. While you likely cannot avoid probate entirely with one gun trust, it can certainly help.

Gun trusts have many benefits, but they must be set up correctly to be effective. They are unlike simple living trusts and have some important nuances that require skilled legal help. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to walk you through these potential issues to create a trust that meets your needs. Call Legacy Planning Law Group at 904-880-5554 to see how we can help with your Florida trusts and estate planning.

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Written by Legacy Planning Law Group

Legacy Planning Law Group is dedicated to working with individuals and families to help protect the assets they have built throughout their life, and make everything simpler for families who have lost a loved one. We help thoughtful people achieve the peace of mind that comes with planning their personal legacy and passing on family harmony.