Gun Trusts, or Firearm Trusts, are a relatively new concept in the area of trust law. There are many iterations of trusts that attorneys can draft that have aims at accomplishing completely different goals. However, all of these trusts, including gun trusts, aim to accomplish one thing: ensuring the safety of the trust’s assets so that they may be passed on to beneficiaries without any issues.
What then is so special about gun trusts? What are their specific aims and goals? How are they most commonly used? Do I need a verified “gun trust attorney” to draft one? These are all excellent questions, which this post aims to answer.
Why Can’t I Just Use a Normal Trust?
Quite frequently, attorneys far and wide advertise their Gun Trust drafting services. You pay a few hundred dollars, fill in the blanks and bam! You have a gun trust and are “protected.” What many people don’t know, is that a large portion of these attorneys aren’t privy to necessary information when it comes to drafting Gun Trusts. Many attorneys simply use another trust form they have (namely for a Living Revocable Trust) and change the naming information.
This type of behavior is akin to “legal suicide.” This “gun trust” won’t protect your guns and won’t grant you the rights you seek. Gun Trusts must be drafted by those who are very familiar with federal laws surrounding firearms, namely the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) and a revision of that law, known as Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968 (Title II). Without this knowledge, the drafting an attorney cannot hope to adequately, safely and correctly draft a Gun Trust that protects their client.
Even Nolo, one of the biggest and most influential legal form companies in the world today, advised their user-base to seek out an experienced attorney:
In the above article, Nolo’s answer to the question “Can I use a Nolo Living Trust to make a Gun Trust?” is a resounding NO! Nolo goes on to state, “If you want to create a gun trust, get personalized legal advice from an expert on gun laws.” Not much else needs to be said: if you want a gun trust, hire an attorney that you can speak to, have your questions answered by and who can draft you a custom Gun Trust as a result of their experienced background.
What Types of Weapons Can A Gun Trust Hold?
As already stated, Gun Trusts can hold many of the weapons regulated by the NFA and Title II. The NFA, for example, regulates many types of weapons, including grenades and silencers. People often put historical or “collector” weapons into their Gun Trust, such as relics from the Civil War or World War II eras. Your Gun Trust can also hold more traditional weapons, such as a handgun or hunting rifle. You’ll want to get specifics from your attorney, but chances are that your Gun Trust can most certainly hold the weapons you possess.
What Are The Benefits of A Gun Trust?
1. Use & Possession. Anyone who is named as a Trustee of your Gun Trust (assuming they meet applicable requirements) can use the guns held in trust. This allows those Trustees to be exempt from NFA laws that only allow the registered owner to possess or use such weapons.
2. No Probate. Much like other trusts, upon the death of the Settlor(s) of the Gun Trust, you can avoid needing to have your weapon assets administered through probate; the Trustee simply follows the directions set forth in the trust when handing the assets over to the Beneficiaries. This saves time, effort and attorney’s fees.
3. Avoid Transfer Issues. Gun Trusts can be used to avoid normal transfer restrictions (which included paperwork, a fee and a very lengthy wait). You can set up your trust to continue in existence upon your death, so that the Trustees and later on, the Beneficiaries, may continue to use the weapons even after you’re gone.
4. Avoid Purchase Hassle. Your Gun Trust can actually purchase and acquire weapons after it is created. As it is a trust, it does not have to provide a background check, fingerprints or other routine things requested when a person purchases a weapon.
If you are the owner of a weapon (or multiple weapons) and want to ensure their safety, future use and freedom from creditors, a Gun Trust is most certainly something to talk to an attorney about. Much like other possessions, guns and weapons alike can have meaning and value to any individual outside of their monetary worth – Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys about Gun Trusts today!
By: Matthew Hagerty