Gun Trust For Your Firearm Planning
Many people in Minnesota and Florida own guns. Passing guns down to family members and teaching safe firearm ownership skills is part of the legacy in many families. However, you might be wondering about the legality of giving a gun away, or how to transfer firearms as part of your overall estate plan. A gun trust may help provide clarity and protect you, your trustee, and your beneficiaries. If you would like to discuss setting up a gun trust with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer, consider contacting the Roulet Law Firm, P.A. by calling our Florida office at 941-909-4644 or our Minnesota office at 763-420-5087.
What Is A Gun Trust?
A gun trust is a special kind of trust that specifically deals with the use, ownership, and transfer of firearms. Once the grantor establishes a gun trust, they transfer ownership of the firearms to the trust. Beneficiaries of the trust can then make use of the guns without having to legally own them. Besides making it more feasible for large families to share heirloom weapons and hunting equipment, the trust structure can create a layer of legal insulation to simplify compliance with relevant gun laws.
With a gun trust, you may be able to do the following:
- Create clear instructions regarding the use of, and access to, the trust’s firearms
- Allow designated individuals to continue using your firearms if you become disabled or pass away
- Provide a clear plan for your trustee to follow in all matters related to your firearms
- Pass your gun collection to the beneficiaries of your choice, or allow a pool of designated beneficiaries to continue using the firearms without having to transfer ownership rights to a single individual
What Is the Point of a Gun Trust?
The main point of a gun trust is to comply with various state and federal laws related to guns. Guns are a highly regulated area. You or your beneficiaries may not be aware of all laws related to the transfer of guns, and could inadvertently violate a law that subjects you to stiff penalties. A gun trust can help you comply with various local, state, and federal laws related to your guns.
Additional benefits of setting up a gun trust may include:
- You can protect your trustee: Many trusts instruct the trustee to make distributions of trust property without question. However, a gun trust may include a provision that allows the trustee to withhold a firearm if granting access would violate a law.
- You can protect your beneficiaries: Some people may not be able to legally own a firearm. Even being in possession of a gun can be a crime in some instances. Gun violations can potentially result in incarceration and expensive fines. The United States Sentencing Commission has found that weapon offenders have an average incarceration period of twelve years. Your gun trust can let you restrict gun ownership and access to only individuals who have a legal right to own or access them.
- You can provide clear guidelines to your loved ones: Often, after a person becomes disabled or passes away, the surviving family is unsure of what they wanted to do with their property. By creating a gun trust, you can create clear instructions about what you want to have happen to your firearms and accessories. This keeps the guesswork to a minimum during a time when your family may already be struggling.
- You can maintain your privacy: Trusts are generally administered privately and do not become part of the probate estate. Therefore, any provisions you have about your firearms can be maintained in privacy and avoid becoming a matter of public record, as would be the case if the guns were transferred via a Last Will and Testament during the probate process.
- You can avoid transfer requirements: If your gun trust only allows the use of the trust property (the firearms in this case) and does not transfer legal ownership of them, you can avoid cumbersome transfer requirements, such as completing Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms transfer documents, federal background checks, and fingerprinting.
What Is the Difference Between a Gun Trust and a Regular Trust?
Gun trusts and other types of living, or revocable, trusts share many similarities. Both types of trust allow you to create guidelines for how to handle your property upon your death or incapacity. Both types also allow you to make changes or revoke the trusts during your lifetime. The major difference is that gun trusts deal only with firearms and related items while trusts may deal with other property, such as real estate, financial assets, and personal property. Having a dedicated gun trust allows you to separate your desires and instructions related to your guns from the rest of your estate plan.
What Guns Go in a Gun Trust?
You can put whichever firearms you want in a gun trust. However, many people use gun trusts so they can comply with the National Firearms Act Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968. Therefore, they may place the following types of firearms in gun trusts:
- Fully automatic machine guns
- Short-barreled rifles
- Destructive devices
- Sawed-off shotguns
- Suppressors also known as “Silencers”
- Any other weapons (AOW)
How To Set Up a Gun Trust
Setting up a gun trust involves several steps, including:
- Creating a set of instructions about how you want your firearms handled, including provisions for what to do with them upon your death or incapacitation
- Designating one or more beneficiaries you want to be able to use the firearms, or to whom you wish to transfer ownership
- Identifying the specific firearms that are part of the trust
- Naming a trustee who can pass a background check, who will be responsible for carrying out the terms of the trust
While the above process may seem simple, you will likely want additional legal protections in place to protect you, your trustee, and your beneficiaries. An experienced estate planning lawyer with Roulet Law Firm, P.A. can explain the applicable laws in Minnesota or Florida and help you understand how these may impact your gun ownership rights. A lawyer can also explain your options and draft a trust that communicates your wishes.
Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer To Create Your Individualized Gun Trust
If you are thinking about making a gun trust part of your estate plan, an estate planning lawyer can help you navigate complex transfer rules and minimize confusion surrounding firearm regulations. Consider contacting Roulet Law Firm, P.A. by calling our Florida office at 941-909-4644 or our Minnesota office at 763-420-5087 and scheduling an appointment to review options for setting up your gun trust.
And, if you would like to learn how to make it as easy and inexpensive as possible for your family to manage your affairs during incapacity and after passing, while ensuring your assets only go to whom you want and how you want, click here to register for our FREE online masterclass.
And, if you would like to learn how to protect your home and life savings from long-term care and nursing home costs, click here to download our FREE guide Save our Home: How to Protect Your Home and Life Savings From Long-Term Care and Nursing Home Costs.