Gun Owners: Here’s What Happens to Your Firearms Without a Gun Trust

Many people assume that your gun is treated just like any other piece of personal property in your estate plan. However, that is not the case in Florida. Failing to have a plan for your firearms as part of your estate plan can lead to complications that your family may have to address.

Class III weapons and weapons that fall under the National Firearms Act (NFA) are particularly tricky to leave to someone else after your passing. In fact, if the estate plan is not properly established, it can lead to a family member or loved one unlawfully possessing a firearm, which can result in costly fines and even jail time. An unregistered firearm can result in up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The government could also seize the weapons.

Loved ones will definitely not appreciate that type of inheritance. These provisions are particularly relevant if you own a machine gun or another type of serious weapon.

Weapons that may fall under the NFA might include:

  • Short-barreled shotguns
  • Short-barreled rifles
  • Machine guns
  • Suppressors or silencers
  • Explosive devices
  • Large caliber weapons

Each weapon that falls under the NFA must be registered with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). If the weapon is not already registered by the time you purchase it, then it is illegal to own. If you want to transfer a registration, you must pay a tax and get approval from the ATF.

Incorporating a Gun Trust into Your Estate Plan

The solution to how to handle firearm inheritances is often the use of a “gun trust.” A gun trust allows firearms to pass from person to person as a valid means of estate planning. It is specifically designed for those who own guns.

Gun trusts provide access to firearms for multiple people, assuming that the individuals are legally permitted to own or use firearms. Each individual in the gun trust can have legal access to the gun without it being specifically registered in their name.

Gun trusts allow you to avoid the permitting process that is required for NFA weapons. There are no fingerprints, pictures, or certification requirements. Instead, the individual who is designated as the trustee can use and possess the weapons owned by the trust. Then, you also name the beneficiaries and executor separately so that your guns will pass safely to loved ones without having to go through the trouble and effort of getting approval from the ATF. Gun trusts also help users avoid the probate process as well.

Gun trusts make the estate planning process much easier on loved ones and prevent potential legal problems that loved ones may encounter if they do not possess the gun lawfully. For more information about this unique estate planning tool, contact The Legacy Planning Law Group today.

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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.