What is a Gun Trust?
Gun Trusts are prepared as a means of receiving, owning, and possessing firearms and can provide benefits over individual ownership. Most often, Gun Trusts are used for firearms covered by Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA). Title II firearms include machine guns, suppressors, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, destructive devices (e.g., grenades, mortars, rocket launchers, etc.), and “any other item” as defined by the National Firearms Act (NFA).
Gun Trusts are often revocable, meaning that the trust creator, or settlor, to add, remove, or change trustees or beneficiaries. However, if asset protection is a concern, crafting an irrevocable Gun Trust may be considered. Additionally, Gun Trusts can be used as a way to avoid the Probate of Title I firearms. It should be noted that using the same Gun Trust to cover both Title II and Title I could result in the Title I firearms to rules that would only otherwise apply to Title II firearms.
Benefits of a Gun Trust
For Title II firearms owned by an individual, said firearm can only be used and possessed by the registered owner, or in the presence of the registered owner. If a Title II firearm is used/possessed by a nonregistered owner, this could result in criminal liability to the person in possession of the firearm. A Gun Trust can avoid this situation as a Gun Trust allows for multiple persons to possess and use the firearm(s). Additionally, a Gun Trust is a useful part of an Estate Plan for transferring firearms at death or incapacity of the trust creator and may help to avoid Probate. Gun Trusts can also provide safeguards to trustees and beneficiaries from accidental law violations. Despite the benefits of a Gun Trust, such a Trust is not a way for a person who is prohibited from using or possessing firearms to get around this prohibition. An individual can face criminal liability if prohibited persons are allowed to use firearms, regardless as to whether said firearms are owned by a Gun Trust.
Does a Gun Trust Make Sense for You?
A Gun Trust should be considered by anyone who is planning to obtain any Title II firearms, and may also be used by an individual already in possession of Title II firearms. An important consideration revolves around whether a Title II firearm owner wants to allow others to use the firearms and to provide a way to pass the firearms on to beneficiaries.
A Gun Trust does not make much sense if the gun owner will be the only settlor, trustee, and beneficiary. A Gun Trust does not allow a gun owner to bypass federal and/or state laws, including crossing state lines without giving proper notice to federal authorities, so if this is the intention, a Gun Trust will not be of assistance. Additionally, a gun owner who only owns Title I guns likely does not need a Gun Trust as ownership and transfer of said firearms can be accomplished through a Revocable Living Trust.
If your guns are important to you, take steps to give yourself Peace of Mind today. Contact Clinch Law Firm, LLC to schedule a free consultation at our York, Nebraska office, or feel free to schedule a complimentary 30-minute telephone consultation or a 60-minute in-person consultation for a time that works for you here: Appointment Scheduler. Virtual appointments are also available, upon request.