Why a Gun Trust?

The possession, use, and transfer of Title II weapons such as automatic and large-clip weapons, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, sound suppressors (silencers), destructive devices, and Any Other Weapons (AOW’s) are regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA). Often referred to as assault weapons, these weapons are difficult to purchase and sell. Among the bureaucracy involved in obtaining them is the requirement of getting a local chief law enforcement officer (police chief or sheriff) to sign off on your application.

Regular trusts such as revocable living trusts do not address the laws relating to firearms and fall short of the desired protection. Legal entities such as LLC’s require annual filings and separate tax information, unnecessarily complicating the process and still lack the effectiveness of a properly designed gun trust.
Gun trusts hold, share, and distribute your firearm assets. Gun owners could use a free trust provided by a gun shop (which happens to be the unauthorized practice of law) or download one from an online discount site, but these products do not offer the same protection as a professionally drafted trust and usually fail to address state laws.

These products often leave a trustee vulnerable to committing an accidental felony in the future. Knowing that you get what you pay for, always be wary of free legal services.

An example of an accidental felony is when a gun collection is inherited by a disinterested family member. The family member may wish to sell the collection and unknowingly sell it to a prohibited person. Prohibited persons (those who are not allowed to purchase or hold firearms) include:

  • Felons
  • Fugitives
  • Controlled substance users (like medical marijuana)
  • Medical defectives
  • Illegal aliens
  • Dishonorably discharged veterans
  • Domestic violence misdemeanor convicts
  • Restraining order
This also includes loaning your weapon, or providing access to your weapons to a prohibited person. Case law suggests that knowing the combination or having access to a key to a gun safe is considered “transferring” a weapon to a prohibited person. Transferring weapons to a prohibited person, even unknowingly and without intent to commit a crime, is a felony punishable by 10 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines, per count.

However, gun trusts do not just apply to NFA weapons. Anyone who owns sporting guns should want to ensure that they are properly cared for and passed on to the proper heirs. There was a recent example of an heir surrendering a beautiful collection of antique shotguns to law enforcement because she didn’t “want guns in her house”. If your collection has either sentimental or high dollar value, then consider a gun trust as your “legal gun safe”. Why not make sure today that your valuable assets go to the right people or organization?

A gun trust is designed with this scenario in mind. Founders leave detailed instructions to handle the assets and an overview of applicable laws and regulations. Finally, gun trusts avoid the probate process so your firearms will not become part of a public court proceeding.

Gun laws are drafted by the anti-gun crowd, not the pro-gun crowd, therefore the laws are terribly strict and the punishment for breaking these laws can be devastating. However, a little bit of planning goes a long way. Call us today to get the facts and to find out if a gun trust is right for you.

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