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gun trusts 3

I Live In Florida, Do I Need A Gun Trust?

I Live In Florida, Do I Need A Gun Trust?

Summary: A gun trust is a legal entity that has special rules and provisions built into it that ensure the trustee and beneficiaries of the trust do not violate the National Firearms Act (NFA). Violating federal gun laws, even by accident, could result in loss of firearms, a prison term of up to 10 years, and fines up to $10,000.

It seems like gun trusts are everywhere these days. You can’t go into an online forum or physical gun shop where they deal with silencers or other more heavily regulated items and not hear someone talking about gun trusts. There’s a lot of lingo that gets thrown around pertaining to trusts: grantor, settlor, trustee, responsible person, revocable, irrevocable, and more.

Deciding whether or not to use a gun trust is just one of the many important decisions that must be made when it comes to buying a suppressor, an SBR, or a machine gun. So what, exactly, is a gun trust? Why do they matter, and how did they get so popular? We’ll cover all of that and more in this article.

A gun trust is a legal entity that has special rules and provisions built into it that ensure the trustee and beneficiaries of the trust do not violate the National Firearms Act (NFA). Violating federal gun laws, even by accident, could result in loss of firearms, a prison term of up to 10 years, and fines up to $10,000.

Gun trusts are sometimes called NFA Trusts because they are most often used when it comes to items that are subject to the NFA. Firearms that are subject to the restrictions and laws of the NFA include short-barreled rifles (SBRs), suppressors, machine guns, and short-barreled shotguns (SBSs).

How Gun Trusts Work

A gun trust is a revocable trust created to hold title to your firearms and other NFA-regulated items. Because the trust is a legal entity, it becomes the legal owner of the guns or other items that are either transferred to or originally purchased by the trust.

However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have control over your guns and accessories. The person who creates the trust is called the grantor or settlor, and the items within it are ones that they have purchased through the trust for their own use and specific people of their choosing.

Usually, this person is named to manage the trust for the trust’s other authorized users and beneficiaries. Because the trust is revocable, the grantor can make changes to, or even void entirely, the trust agreement at any time before the grantor’s death. This includes adding and subtracting people from the list of trustees. When the grantor dies, the trust becomes irrevocable, and an alternate trustee manages the trust for the individuals who become the beneficiaries after the grantor passes away.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Gun Trusts

As with all things related to firearms and the law, there are advantages and disadvantages to using gun trusts. We’ll take a look at some of each to help you decide what might be best for you.

Advantages of Using a Gun Trust

NFA items have their own set of special legal rules that apply to them, and things can get real complicated real quick when life (or death) gets in the way. If you’ve got a gun trust set up, it can help mitigate and guide how things unfold when it comes to those items.

  • Items can be used by multiple people
  • Avoid the probate process
  • Confiscation protection

Disadvantages of Using a Gun Trust

If we’re being completely honest, there really aren’t many disadvantages to using a gun trust. Instead, there are just a few things to consider and keep in mind. They’re not really disadvantages in our view, but they aren’t advantages either, so this is where there’s being categorized.

  • You’ll do more paperwork
  • It’s not a fast track to approval
  • Photo and fingerprints are required

How to Set Up a Gun Trust

Unless you’re a lawyer, there’s a good chance that you don’t completely understand all of the “legal-ese” that goes into setting up a gun trust – and that’s perfectly fine. No one expects their car mechanic to know how to do open heart surgery either.

Instead, the best way to set up a trust is to have a lawyer or another company with experience in setting up trusts (like our sister company, Silencer Central) do it for you. In this scenario, the actual legwork required by you is minimal. You decide the name of the trust, who will be included in it, what items will be included in it (you can put non-NFA guns in here, too), and then sign off on all the paperwork, get fingerprinted, have your photo taken, and submit it all to the ATF.

Do I Need a Trust to Purchase an NFA Item?

No, you do not need a gun trust to purchase NFA items. Because trusts aren’t one-size-fits-all, they may not be right for every potential buyer. As a result, plenty of NFA items are sold each and every year that are registered in the name of the individual owner. One option isn’t necessarily better than the other – just different.

Whether you use a trust or not has zero impact on your actual purchase of the item. It doesn’t make it cost any more or less and it doesn’t add or subtract any meaningful amount of paperwork to an already cumbersome process

What’s the Cost of a Gun Trust?

The cost of a gun trust varies widely. There are a lot of websites online that offer to set up trusts for you and their costs are all over the place. The same goes for using an in-person attorney to set up a gun trust. The cost will vary from attorney to attorney.

Read more related articles here:

National Firearms Act

Moving to Florida with firearms? Here’s what you need to know.

Also, read one of our previous Blogs here:

Gun Collections Pose Special Estate Problems

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.




Gun Trusts

Gun Collections Pose Special Estate Problems


Gun Collections Pose Special Estate Problems

Gun Collections Pose Special Estate Problems. People may collect guns for self‐defense, target shooting or hunting. Guns may be investments or heirlooms. Many gun owners want their guns to be used responsibly and be passed on to those who appreciate them. Certain firearms and accessories are federally restricted. A state may restrict them further. For example, short‐barreled rifles, automatic weapons, silencers and other such items, require a federal tax stamp to acquire as well as the approval of the local Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO.) There are many regulations and issues surrounding passing guns down to one’s heirs that are not present with a bank account, chair, picture or other type of property. We must consider not only where the beneficiary lives, the laws of that state, the laws of the state where the items are located, the eligibility of the beneficiary to be in possession, but also:

(1) Is it a good idea to put a weapon in the hands of the beneficiary? Are they mature and responsible enough?

(2) If not, what will we do?

A Gun Trust is a special purpose revocable living trust. A Gun Trust is written to hold only firearms. The owner of the gun is the trustee and the beneficiary. The owner appoints successor trustees and lifetime and remainder beneficiaries. The trust can be amended or revoked at any time and the owner can name and remove beneficiaries. In the past, Gun Trusts were created primarily for NFA restricted firearms (Title II items ‐ silencers, short-barreled rifles, shotguns, and machine guns) but lately they have attracted the attention of those who own “assault weapons” .

Gun Trusts are used for two main reasons. The first is to expedite a transfer of a National Firearms Act firearm. Using a trust means you do not have to obtain the approval of your local Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) and the application can be sent directly to BATF. This saves a lot of time. Registration of a NFA firearm to an individual or corporation takes approximately one to three months to complete. The firearm cannot be handled or transported by any other private individual unless the firearm’s registered owner is present. However, NFA items owned by properly drafted trusts may be legally possessed by any Trustee and a beneficiary may use the item in the presence or under the authority of the Trustee. The second reason is to provide detailed instructions over disposition of one’s gun collection.

Many gun dealers make trust forms available. The problem is that they are usually just standard revocable living trusts, not specifically written about firearms ownership. They typically do not provide guidance or limitations for the Trustee who may find him or herself committing a felony in the way the items are used, held, transferred or sold. Some people cannot legally possess firearms. Some transfers are illegal. A properly written “Gun Trust” for NFA purposes is far more than a form. It helps the decedent’s loved ones deal with items that are problematic at best under both state law and federal law. Improper administration of regulated firearms can result in a criminal conviction and fines. Certain conduct constitutes a criminal offense, including receiving or possessing a firearm transferred to oneself in violation of the NFA; receiving or possessing a firearm made in violation of the NFA; receiving or possessing a firearm not registered to oneself in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record; transferring or making a firearm in violation of the NFA; or obliterating, removing, changing, or altering the serial number of the firearm. Penalties can include up to ten years in federal prison; forfeiture of all devices or firearms in violation, forfeiture of all rights to own or possess firearms in the future and a penalty of $10,000 for certain violations.
Read more related articles here:

Protecting And Passing On Your Gun Collection

What to Do When Guns Are Part of an Estate

Also, read one of our previous Blogs here:

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.

gun trusts

Bequeathing And Inheriting Guns: What To Do With Firearms When Someone Dies

Bequeathing And Inheriting Guns: What To Do With Firearms When Someone Dies

Bequeathing And Inheriting Guns: What To Do With Firearms When Someone Dies. Map out a smooth transition because it can get complicated.

When you die, your assets go to the people named in your Will or Trust, right? Sure — except if they’re guns. Then maybe not. With firearms, inheritance gets complicated. Whether your wishes can be followed depends on where you live, what types of guns you own, and the individuals who would inherit.

Laws and procedures for transferring ownership of your firearms — whether you’re alive or dead — differ depending on the type of gun(s) and the state where the decedent last resided.

From a legal standpoint, broadly speaking, guns fall into two classifications. Some firearms, along with certain accessories, are subject to the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) and its revised version, Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968. These include fully automatic weapons, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, and silencers. They must have serial numbers and be registered with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Unregistered NFA weapons are contraband. They can’t be passed down to an heir and can’t be registered after the fact. If the executor of the estate discovers unregistered NFA firearms, he/she must contact the local ATF office to arrange for them to be “abandoned” – in other words, turned over to law enforcement.

Firearms not covered by the NFA include revolvers, hunting rifles, shotguns, and semi-automatic pistols bought for personal or home protection.

For those firearms that are not covered by the NFA, as well as licensed NFA weapons, the best way to transfer to an heir is to go through an entity with a Federal Firearm License (FFL) such as a licensed gun dealer. After assisting the executor and the heir in filling out the required forms, the FFL will hold onto the firearms while completing the background check. Upon passing the background check, the heir can collect the firearms after 10 working days. You can find local FFLs by searching online at sites like FFLGunDealers.net and Gunbroker.com.

Gun Trusts

A Gun Trust  is a way to avoid the transfer process described above. The Trust is an entity you create that holds the title to your firearms. You can name multiple trustees, who then share the right to possess and use the firearms covered by the Trust.

Since the Trust stays in effect after your death, the executor of the estate isn’t involved, and the firearms don’t have to go through probate.

Trusts are not intended to circumvent the law. However, some gun owners believe a Trust might help get around any future laws prohibiting transfer or inheritance of certain weapons.

While a simple Revocable Livng Trust generally ends once your assets are distributed after your death, a Gun Trust can be designed to last for multiple generations, and it must take federal and state gun laws into account. To create a Gun Trust, it’s essential to work with an attorney very familiar with the laws governing the use, possession, and transfer of weapons in your state. For example, you wouldn’t want to name a trustee who is prohibited by law from possessing the firearms, for example.

Gun Trusts are useful for people who want to share the use of their weapons with others during their lifetime. But recent ATF rules have removed some of the advantages of a Gun Trust for inheritance purposes. Carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages before setting up a Trust; don’t fall for aggressive lawyers’ sales pitches without doing your own research and/or getting a second opinion.

Crossing State Lines

Let’s say that in your Will you leave a collection of non-NFA guns to your daughter, who lives in another state. Federal law doesn’t prevent her from picking them up and driving them home across state lines. But she must comply with the laws of both her own state (or city) and yours pertaining to registration and transportation of firearms. For example, if her state requires a firearms permit, she will need to get one.

It couldn’t hurt to research this yourself ahead of time and let her know the rules, since there are transport procedures to follow no matter where she’s driving.

Keep in mind, though — and this is good advice for any transaction involving guns — that laws are changing all the time. Do your research, stay informed, but if you have any doubt at all, consult a lawyer with knowledge of firearm laws. The last thing you want is someone you love getting pulled over for a routine traffic stop and getting booked for transporting firearms.

Prohibited Persons

Federal and state laws forbid certain people to possess firearms. You can bequeath firearms to anyone you choose, but they will not be able to take possession of the guns if they are a “prohibited person” as defined by the ATF, or if they fall into certain additional categories that may be specified in the laws of your state.

Prohibited persons under federal law include unlawful users of a controlled substance, people convicted of serious crimes or domestic violence misdemeanors, those judged “mentally defective,” and others. State laws impose additional restrictions.

A record of specific felonies, violent misdemeanors, or mental conditions may disqualify people from owning guns. Some states restrict alcohol abusers from possessing firearms. Age requirements vary too; for example, minors (people under 18) may not possess firearms in California. If you’re in doubt, check with a lawyer who is familiar with your state’s gun laws and rights.

Sell Or Surrender

If you have no interest in owning any of the firearms passed down to you, and the guns have considerable value, you can sell them to a licensed dealer — the same type we mentioned above to assist in transferring ownership. If you don’t care about the money and just want to get rid of them and make sure they don’t end up in anyone else’s hands again, you can surrender them to your local police department.

While the rules for this vary depending on where you live, you should contact the station to find out the proper procedure before just driving down there with a bag of weapons. If you’re worried that you could get in trouble for even possessing or moving the guns, take a wild guess as to what we suggest you should do. Yep, check with a lawyer first.

Have we said “check with a lawyer” enough times in this article? That’s because where guns are concerned, it really is a good idea, in any but the simplest of situations.

Read more related articles at:



Transfers of National Firearms Act Firearms in Decedents’ Estates/ATF.gov

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Own a Gun? Careful: You Might Need a Gun Trust

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.



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