What Is a Gun Trust and Do I Need One?
Oct. 15, 2020
When it comes to estate planning, many people are familiar with trusts as a way to safeguard and transfer property such as real estate and investments. A gun trust is a separate entity altogether and another valuable tool that offers tremendous advantages. Its benefits apply not only after your death but also during your lifetime. Bonus!
What Is It?
A gun trust (also known as an NFA trust, ATF trust, or Title II trust) is a legal entity created to hold ownership of any firearms that are regulated under the National Firearms Act (Title II of federal gun control law). These firearms currently include:
Fully automated machine guns
Short-barreled shotguns and rifles
Certain guns are classified as “any other weapon” (AOW)
Because a gun trust is a revocable trust, it can be changed or rescinded anytime during the creator’s lifetime.
What Benefits Does It Offer During Your Life?
Owning, transporting, and transferring NFA firearms requires strict adherence to federal law. Violating that law can result in felony charges. For example, simply possessing or operating an NFA firearm can be a felony if you aren’t the registered owner. It’s not uncommon to find an otherwise law-abiding gun owner accidentally breaking these laws simply because of the degree of specificity they carry.
But when a trust owns those firearms, multiple people – as long as they are listed as trustees – can use the firearms without risking criminal liability. (Keep in mind that each individual must still undergo a background check and comply with other procedural requirements.)
What About After Your Death?
From an estate planning perspective, a gun trust provides a legal way to transfer ownership of the firearms upon the owner’s death. The trust can be structured so that the title transfers seamlessly to the beneficiaries.
As with all aspects of estate planning, it’s important to tailor each element to your unique situation. Schedule a complimentary consultation to learn more about gun trusts and whether they’re a good fit for you.