FAQs

gun trust services

What Is a Gun Trust?

A Gun Trust is a legal concept designed specifically to own and manage the ownership of weapons. A Comprehensive Gun Trust satisfies two broad criteria:
  • Allows you to legally transfer any weapon you own to your loved ones while protecting your administrator against 'accidental felonies'
  • Allows for the purchase, ownership, and management of NFA (Class 3/Title II) weapons while avoiding the numerous legal pitfalls inherent in such weapons that would legal to 'accidental felonies'
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Who Needs a Gun Trust?

Anyone who owns a gun can benefit from the protections a Gun Trust affords. If you are concerned about setting up legal safeguards to protect your administrator from committing an accidental felony, you may benefit from a Gun Trust. If you want to purchase a NFA (Class 3/Title II) weapon, you may also benefit from a Gun Trust.
gun

What Can I do With My Gun Trust?

Gun Trusts allow you to:
  • Safely make specific gifts of your weapons to loved ones at death without fear of committing an accidental felony
  • Avoid probate for your firearms
  • Purchase NFA (Class 3/Title II) weapons
  • Share your NFA (Class 3/Title II) weapons with others without committing an accidental felony
rifle

Do I Need a Gun Trust If I Only Own a Rifle or a Shotgun or a Handgun?

You do not legally need a Gun Trust to own weapons, but Gun Trusts set up legal safeguards to avoid accidental felonies. Very few estate planning attorneys are knowledgeable and incorporate gun laws and regulations into their estate planning.

This leaves open the very real possibility that your administrator and beneficiary can commit accidental felonies by transferring and acquiring your gun, per your wishes, when you pass.
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What Is an 'Accidental Felony' in Relation to Normal Weapons?

Gun Trusts provide protection for unknowledgeable Personal Representatives or Executors in making unlawful transfers to beneficiaries. A Personal Representative or Executor who is simply trying to pass your guns to your named beneficiaries can accidentally commit a felony by transferring to a 'prohibited person'.
Class 3/Title II Weapons

What Are Class 3/Title II Weapons? 

Fully automatics, short-barrel rifles, short-barrel shotguns, silencers, destructive devices, and 'any other weapon'.
Class 3/Title II Weapons

What Is an 'Accidental Felony' in Relation to NFA (Class 3/Title II) Weapons?

Possession and transfer of any type of firearm to a 'prohibited person' could result in a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine per occurrence. In some circumstances, loaning, gifting, sharing or even allowing others access to a particular type of firearm is a crime. It does not matter if it is at home or at the range. Not knowing the law constitutes an 'accidental felony' and is punished just as harshly as a knowing felony.
Class 3/Title II Weapons

What Are the Benefits of a Gun Trust in Relation to NFA (Class 3/Title II) Weapons?

The biggest benefit of having a Gun Trust for NFA (Class 3/Title I Weapons) is to allow legal sharing of the weapon. Without a Gun Trust, merely allowing someone to possess the weapon or have access to it may constitute an accidental felony.

Previously, Gun Trusts were valuable for allowing easier purchase of such weapons, but BATFE 41F (effective 7/13/2016) eliminates this benefit. There may also be a tax avoidance benefit to transferring NFA (Class 3/Title II weapons) with a Gun Trust.
Class 3/Title II Weapons

What Changes Does BATFE 41F (Effective 7/13/2016) Make in the Law in Regards to Class 3/Title II Weapons?

BATFE 41F [TAW: link to article on BATFE 41F changes] largely eliminated the benefits of using a Gun Trust for purposes of purchasing NFA (Class 3/Title II) weapons. Prior to 7/13/2016, a Gun Trust would allow the purchase to avoid providing fingerprints and a passport-style photograph to the government as well as receiving sign-off from the Chief Legal Enforcement Officer (CLEO) in the area.

After 7/13/2016, individuals and Gun Trusts are treated the same for purposes of purchasing NFA weapons. Now all responsible persons must provide personal information, fingerprints, and a photograph. Individuals and Gun Trusts are both required to provide personal information, fingerprints, and a photograph to the government as well as provide notification to the CLEO.

Trusts with an approved application in the preceding 24 months may certify 'no change' rather than resubmit all the paperwork. Also, Personal Representatives and Executors may now possess NFA weapons for purposes of transferring and administering the estate. Changes in trustees do not constitute a transfer under the NFA. Transfers of a decedent’s NFA firearm may be made on a tax-exempt basis to a beneficiary of the estate or trust or on a taxable basis to any other person.
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Who Are Responsible Persons?

All Responsible Persons (anyone who possesses, directly or indirectly, the power or authority to direct the management and policies of the trust) must submit personal information, fingerprints, and a photograph. Basically, anyone who will or could possess the weapon for any amount of time or direct another to do so must submit.
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Can I Buy, Sell, or Otherwise Transfer My Weapon If I Have a Gun Trust?

Yes. As Trustee of the Gun Trust, you can essentially act as if you own the weapon outright.
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Do I Need to Get a New Gun Trust Every Time I Buy, Sell or Otherwise Transfer a Weapon?

No. A Comprehensive Gun Trust can be used to own all your weapons, both standard and NFA. You may need to pay a transfer tax when you transfer an NFA weapon.

Note that not all Gun Trusts (especially online forms) are equipped to handle this. They may be specifically tailored solely for the purpose of purchasing an NFA weapon.
gun trust

Can I Use the Gun Trust to Pass My Weapons to Family or Friend Upon My Death?

Yes. A Comprehensive Gun Trust will effectively pass your weapons to your beneficiaries (by avoiding probate) and shield your administrator from committing an accidental felony.

Note that not all Gun Trusts (especially online forms) are equipped to handle this. They may be specifically tailored solely for the purpose of purchasing an NFA weapon.
gun trust

Will a Comprehensive Gun Trust Avoid Probate?

Yes, if done properly.

Note that not all Gun Trusts (especially online forms) are equipped to handle this. They may be specifically tailored solely for the purpose of purchasing an NFA weapon.
gun trust services

Why Should I Get a Comprehensive Gun Trust Instead of Using an Online Form?

Many online 'gun trusts' are developed solely for the purposes of purchasing NFA (Class 3/Title II) weapons. They may not properly be equipped to:
  • Safely and legally pass your weapons to loved ones at death
  • Avoid accidental felonies of normal weapons being passed at death
  • Avoid accidental felonies in the ownership and usage of NFA weapons.
The benefits of online or simple form Gun Trusts is largely negated by BATFE 41 (effective 7/13/2016), which treats individuals and Gun Trusts mostly the same for purposes of purchasing and transferring NFA weapons.
gun trust services

Do I Need a Gun Trust If I Have a Will or Other Trust?

Few Estate Planning Attorneys are knowledgeable about gun laws and conscious enough of the dire consequences to include the necessary preventative language in their standard estate plans. The ownership and passing of guns is best handled through a Gun Trust.
gun trust services

Do I Need a Will or Trust (Full Estate Plan) If I Have a Gun Trust?

Gun Trusts only handle that portion of your estate that consists of weapons. To best achieve your desires in effectively, efficiently, and cheaply passing on all of your assets, you should consider how best a Gun Trust can be implemented into your Comprehensive Estate Plan.
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