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Do you need to add a gun trust to your estate plan?

by | Jan 15, 2021 | Estate Planning

You have been a firearms owner all your life. In fact, you received your first shotgun as a small boy. It was passed down to you from your grandfather and one day you hope to pass it down to your own grandchild.

Other than that vague intention, however, you have really given little thought as to how your firearms collection will be distributed. But maybe it is time that you did.

What is a gun trust?

Gun trusts can be either irrevocable or revocable and these management trusts take title to firearms. If you make your gun trust revocable, you can make needed changes and amendments to it during your lifetime.

Gun trusts are most commonly used for firearms that fall under the jurisdiction of the National Firearms Act (NFA) Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968. The trusts deal with firearms classified as Examples of Title II weapons, including:

  • Short-barreled shotguns
  • Silencers (also called suppressors)
  • Fully automatic machine guns

You should know that any weapon that you own legally can be added to a revocable gun trust. It does not have to be one of the cited examples.

What protections do gun trusts offer?

Title II weapons are very heavily regulated. Transporting and transferring ownership of these weapons can turn into a felony very easily due to the many regulations involved. You certainly wouldn’t want your child or grandchild to wind up arrested over your guns.

When you have passed on, the weapons you designate will legally pass to your beneficiaries and heirs after the necessary ID and background checks have been completed.

Should you have alternate beneficiaries?

While your heirs may be law-abiding citizens, it is a simple fact that things happen. One or more of your heirs may not be legally allowed to own a firearm at the time of your death, or the laws may have changed significantly regarding gun ownership. That’s why, if you are a belt-and-suspenders kind of guy, you will want to cover all bases and name a secondary beneficiary if your first choice becomes untenable.

Your Danville estate planning attorney can answer any questions you may have regarding establishing a gun trust for your firearms collection. Don’t put it off another day!