Gun Trust For Your Firearm Planning
Guns form part of many people’s estates in Texas and Florida. Guns can be property of significant value, or they may hold a sentimental attachment for some owners and their loved ones. However, there are many laws surrounding the transfer of gun ownership. Therefore, it is important to carefully consider how to legally transfer ownership of any guns you own. A Gun Trust may help protect you and establish clear instructions regarding the use of your guns. If you would like more information about using a Gun Trust in your estate planning, consider contacting Fleurinord Law PLLC at (888) 904-2297.
What Is a Gun Trust?
A Gun Trust is a Trust set up specifically to hold and manage firearms. A Gun Trust can assist you to protect your rights during your lifetime. They can also instruct your designated trustee about how to handle your guns in the event of future incapacity, and facilitate passing a firearm collection on to beneficiaries. Gun Trusts can even help gun owners stay in compliance with local, state, and federal laws regarding firearms or their transfer.
How Does A Firearm Trust Work?
As with other revocable Trusts, Gun Trusts allow a grantor to set up initial instructions regarding the use of any property contained in the Trust. In the case of a Firearm Trust, the assets placed in the Trust would be the grantor’s guns. No matter what the contents of a revocable Trust, the grantor can freely make changes or revoke the Trust during their lifetime.
Creating a Gun Trust transfers ownership from the grantor as an individual to the Trust, a separate legal entity. This legal distinction means that other individuals can be granted permission to use the guns owned by the Trust without any of those people having to take ownership of the firearms in question. The beneficiaries named in a Gun Trust will be legally allowed to continue using these firearms after the grantor’s death or disability, according to whatever terms the grantor establishes in the Trust documents.
Setting Up a Gun Trust
The process of setting up a Gun Trust is similar to setting up other Trusts. The steps include:
- Naming a Trustee who will follow the instructions in the Trust
- Designating as beneficiaries any individuals the grantor wants to able to use or own the guns after their own death or disability
- Creating instructions for how the firearms should be handled
Because the trustee is responsible for managing all the assets contained in a Trust, when a Trust contains firearms, this individual will need to pass a background check before taking on their role.
An experienced estate planning lawyer with Fleurinord Law, PLLC can help draft a Gun Trust to protect you and your loved ones. We can help to answer any questions you may have about your Trust, such as how to add other firearms to the Trust after you purchase them and steps you should take to protect your rights if you move to a state whose laws governing the ownership and transfer of firearms are different from those in the state where the Trust was established.
How Does a Gun Trust Protect You?
Gun Trusts can help people who own firearms stay in compliance with the various applicable laws. Gun owners may sometimes unintentionally violate laws related to certain firearms when transferring ownership of a gun to a recipient. Firearm violations can cause expensive fines and possible incarceration. According to the United States Sentencing Commission, some weapon offenders had an average incarceration period of 12 years.
The potentially serious consequences of accidental violation of gun laws make it especially desirable to use caution not just in handling firearms, but in managing their ownership. Creating a Gun Trust can make it easier to avoid these problems and ensure that gun ownership and access will be restricted to people with a legal right to own or possess the arms in question.
Benefits of a Gun Trust
Some of the potential benefits of a Gun Trust are that this type of Trust can:
- Protect beneficiaries and trustees: Trustees or beneficiaries may not be aware of gun laws that could negatively impact them. They also may not know how to properly distribute guns from a deceased person to a new owner without violating these laws. Gun Trusts can help prevent problems that may arise when attempting to directly transfer ownership of firearms to a loved one and shield both trustee and beneficiaries from criminal penalties.
- Avoid probate: As with other items in a Trust, guns in a Gun Trust avoid the probate process. This can help transfer property faster and without incurring probate fees on the Trust assets. Additionally, probate is a public process, while Trust administration is private. Many individuals setting up a Gun Trust value this greater privacy.
- Create clear instructions: You might have very specific ideas about how you want your guns to be used. For example, you might want several people to have access to and be able to use the firearms. You may prefer that your firearms be sold if you become incapacitated. You might want the Gun Trust to hold the gun for a grandchild until they become an adult. Gun Trusts give you an opportunity to think through your options and communicate your wishes to the trustee and beneficiaries.
- Avoid transfer requirements: If the beneficiaries will not be directly inheriting the firearms, you can avoid some transfer requirements such as fingerprinting, photographing, paying transfer taxes, completing ATF transfer documents, and executing other legal formalities.
Should I Put All My Firearms in a Gun Trust?
You can put all your firearms in a Gun Trust if you want. However, most Gun Trusts are created to stay in compliance with Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968, which according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) amended the earlier National Firearms Act to improve enforceability and clarify registration requirements for gun owners.
The updated law still regulates specific types of firearms, including:
- Short-barreled rifles
- Fully automatic machine guns
- Sawed-off shotguns
- Destructive devices
- Any other weapons (AOW)
Many individuals will not own all of these firearms; however, it is not necessary to own firearms in every category to make use of a Gun Trust. A Gun Trust can apply just as readily to a single firearm, such as a favorite hunting rifle or heirloom service weapon, as to a diverse assortment of modern devices. CLICK HERE to download our complimentary Title II Firearms Guide.
How Can an Estate Planning Lawyer Help Me With My Firearm Planning?
Estate planning can be complicated, as can firearm planning. An estate planning lawyer can help you navigate complex transfer rules and firearm regulations. An estate planning lawyer can consider how local, state, and federal laws may affect your estate plan, and provided recommendations based on the combination of those factors and your individual needs. A knowledgeable estate planning lawyer can also describe your options for transferring ownership or granting usage rights to the beneficiaries of your choosing.
Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer for Help
If you are considering adding a Gun Trust to your estate plan, an estate planning lawyer may be able to help. When you contact an experienced estate planning lawyer with Fleurinord Law, PLLC, we can discuss your needs and wishes. We can review your legal options with you and help you to craft a unique Gun Trust and other estate planning documents. Contact our Florida or Texas offices today by calling (888) 904-2297.