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Firearms and your estate: Using a gun trust to pass on your weapons

On Behalf of | Sep 23, 2021 | Trusts

You’re proud of your firearms collection. You even have a few beautiful antiques that have been in your family for generations. If you hope to pass your collection — or even one of your prized guns — to your heirs you may need a gun trust to protect them from potential criminal charges.

A gun trust is a specific type of trust that is designed to take legal possession of your firearms. You can make the trust irrevocable at the moment of its creation — which means you relinquish all ability to change its terms. You may also choose to make it revocable so that it can be amended as needed.

Who needs a gun trust?

Generally speaking, gun trusts are designed to hold “Title II” weapons as defined by the National Firearms Act. Specifically, this includes:

  • Any automated weapon that files more than one round per trigger pull
  • Short-barreled shotguns (shotguns with a barrel under 18” long)
  • Short-barreled rifles (with barrels under 16” long)
  • Silencers (noise suppressors)

It can also include numerous other weapons and accessories, including novelty items, like “cigarette lighter” guns and pen guns.

What happens if you don’t use a gun trust?

If you have a Title II firearm in your possession, you need to have the appropriate gun license. Under the law, you cannot loan or give a Title II firearm to anyone else unless they are also licensed to have that firearm. Violation of this law by your heirs is a felony that could lead to a fine, jail time and the permanent loss of their rights to own firearms forevermore.

Estate planning is often complicated in unforeseen ways. The more you know, the better you can make your plans fit your needs — whether that’s through the use of a trust or other estate planning tools.