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There are many different considerations when drafting an estate plan. It is important to consider how money and other assets will be passed should you become incapacitated or pass away.
People don't like thinking about their own mortality, but when they don't, they often leave a big job for their loved ones to unravel.
Estate planning starts with planning for your own needs first. Then planning for
the needs of others. In this way, you can effectively make a difference. We help
others best when we are on solid personal footing.
Just as we need to specify what will happen with our homes and vehicles as part of an estate plan, firearm owners also need to consider what will happen with their firearms. For all firearm owners, a Firearm Trust is a viable and intelligent way to control this aspect of the Estate Plan.
What is a firearm or gun trust?
A Firearm Trust is a revocable trust that allows firearm owners to protect, and pass their firearms and related devices to family members or friends after their death with minimal challenges. Like other types of trusts, a firearm trust is a legal entity that acts as the legal owner of the firearm. Named beneficiaries of the trust will be legally permitted to continue using the firearms after the death of the owner, provided that they are not prohibited persons under law.
I’ve seen them available online. Are they any good?
Maybe. Some are probably OK, but some are horrible, or even criminal. The whole point of having any kind of estate plan is to make things easier on your loved ones. Dealing in firearms incorrectly can not only cause problems, but one wrong move can result in a person committing a felony.
Without a firearm trust, only the legal owner may use the firearm and related devices with other individuals. A firearm trust allows others to use the devices without the human owner because the trust is the official legal owner of the firearm.
What types of firearms should be added to a Firearm Trust?
All firearms and related and regulated devices should be added to a Firearm Trust. Any legal firearm can be included in a Firearm Trust, although this type of trust is most commonly used for weapons that fall under the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) or Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968, because of the difficulty and tax consequences of transferring these devices. Some common examples of NFA weapons include: short-barreled rifles, machine guns, short-barreled shotguns, silencers or suppressors, destructive devices, and the vague ‘any other weapon’, such as pistol braces.
Including all firearms and devices, not just NFA firearms in a Firearm Trust, can help prevent legal complications that may arise attempting to directly transfer ownership of firearms to family or friends.
Why do I need a Firearm Trust?
Firearm laws are complicated. Firearms are items that must be handled properly and carefully when the owner dies, or becomes incapacitated. Firearms are regulated property, and thus unlike most other property people own. Violation of the laws or regulations governing the transfer or possession of firearms, even unintentionally, and you or your executor or trustee could easily commit a felony.
Do Firearm Trusts promote safety?
Yes. Firearm Trusts provide an extra layer of safety to firearm owners, and those who succeed them in ownership, and therefore to the public. A firearm is unlikely to be available or passed to a prohibited person if it is held in a Firearm Trust. A trustee of a Firearm Trust assumes a special obligation under the law when they manage firearms in a trust. Well drafted Firearm Trusts make the parameters of that obligation clear. The result is better informed gun owners, trustees, executors, beneficiaries, and improved public safety.
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