Did you know?
There are more than 270 million firearms in the United States. Whether you own just one of these guns or hundreds, it's important to have a plan in place for where your firearms will go upon your death. Or maybe you’ve always dreamt of owning a silencer or a short-barreled rifle, but your spouse is worried that by simply storing it in your home, they’ll be perceived as possessing it and hence, open to a possible felony conviction. That's where a gun trust comes in to help.
Whether you are a new gun owner wondering what laws govern how you possess that gun or you're a lifelong collector, keep reading. We'll discuss how a gun trust and a gun trust lawyer can help protect you, your guns, and your beneficiaries from legal trouble now and at the time of your death.
What is a Gun Trust?
Like other types of trusts, a gun trust is designed to allow gun owners to pass their property onto beneficiaries after their death and own Title II guns without exposing the other people in their home to a possible felony conviction by constructive possession. The gun trust is different than the typical living trust because gun trusts cover the regulations surrounding gun ownership.
The National Firearms Act of 1934 and a revision known as Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968 require certain taxes on gun sales and transfers and regulate how certain firearms must be registered and to whom.
Brown, Huff & Zohar Law has kept up to speed with the ever-changing gun laws and has gun trusts to allow her clients to hold Title II firearms, regulated more than typical firearms, in a safe and legal manner.
Whether you are an avid gun collector or just own a firearm that you would like to pass on to your children, grandchildren, or other beneficiaries, the last thing that you want to do is hire an attorney who isn't a gun trust lawyer. Doing so could put your friends or loved ones at risk and risks the future of your firearms.
What's Included in a Gun Trust
Most types of firearms can be included in a gun trust, though there are some exceptions. When it comes time to file a trust, a gun trust lawyer can help you figure out whether any of your guns are ineligible.
Whether you own a single, inexpensive gun, or have a priceless collection, it's a good idea to have a gun trust in place because it allows you to transfer the right to possess the gun during and after your life without the hassle of having to file a new registration, and thereby pay the tax stamp. Even more important, when you own or plan on owning a Title II gun, you need to notify your local law enforcement officer and submit fingerprints for everyone who will be in possession, outside of your control, of the Title II gun. Creating a gun trust and appointing the people who will be in possession of the gun as a trustee legitimize the possession and avoid a potential felony conviction.
There are some fees associated with starting a gun trust.
First, you'll need to pay for a Tax Stamp, which allows for the transfer of a gun to an individual, business, or trust. A Tax Stamp typically costs $200. You'll also need to pay a fee for the gun trust itself.
Benefits of a Gun Trust
Hiring an experienced gun trust lawyer will help you ensure that your guns are properly in possession of those around you and later passed on to your beneficiaries in the event of your death. Here are just a few of the benefits that you and those beneficiaries will enjoy when a proper gun trust is completed.
Allows for Several Beneficiaries
A gun trust does not have to include the name of just one beneficiary.
With the help of a gun trust lawyer, you can name one, two, three, or more beneficiaries. If you have several children or grandchildren, this can be a great option. It will allow your children to either decide for themselves who will take each firearm upon your death or allow them to pass the firearms back and forth without worrying about legal implications.
If one of your intended beneficiaries is of an advanced age, this also helps to avoid your guns ending up in legal limbo if the beneficiary passes away before they can create their own gun trust to pass the firearms along to another beneficiary.
Reduces the Complexity of Firearms Law
If you do not have a gun trust, and you pass away and leave firearms behind, the executor of your estate will be responsible for filing the right paperwork to pass the firearms along to beneficiaries listed in your will.
If your executor isn't familiar with firearms law, they may pass along the firearms illegally, and your beneficiaries may be unaware of the risk they are at until it is too late.
Even if your executor is familiar with the necessary laws, they will need to file a large amount of paperwork which can take an extended period of time to file properly.
Filing a gun trust prevents this, and also prevents your firearms from needing to pass through probate before your trustees can receive them.
Avoids Making Your Gun Collection Public Record
Without a gun trust, your firearms must go through probate court before they are passed on to your beneficiaries.
Items that are in probate court become public record. If you have a large collection or own a valuable gun, you could be putting your beneficiaries at risk of theft attempts after the items pass through probate and into the possession of your trustees.
Ability to Name Minors as Beneficiaries
Without a gun trust, lengthy court proceedings might become necessary if you try to will your firearms to a minor.
But if you want to leave your firearms behind to your children, grandchildren, or other minors, a trust can help.
In the event that a named beneficiary is under the legal age to own a certain firearm, if a gun trust is in place, the gun will stay in the trust until the beneficiary reaches the legal age to own the firearm.
Avoids Forcing Beneficiaries to Pay Transfer Fees
If you leave your firearms behind without a gun trust, after lengthy court proceedings and paperwork, your beneficiaries will be forced to pay for a transfer before they can take possession of the gun or guns.
But with the help of a gun trust lawyer, you can avoid passing on hefty fees to your beneficiaries.
By paying for a gun trust, you'll be saving your loved ones from paying the $200 transfer fee, getting fingerprints and a background check done, and more.
Protects Yourself and Your Guns From Future Laws
While these laws are not in place at this time, there are many people who believe that there will soon be laws preventing the transfer of certain guns.
With a gun trust in place, even if these laws go into effect, you'll be able to transfer your gun or guns on to your beneficiaries, before or after your death.
What a Gun Trust Lawyer Can Do
Whether you own a single gun or an entire collection, a firearm that you carry for protection or a prized, collectible piece, a gun trust is a necessity.
Even if you haven't purchased a firearm yet, a gun trust can be a smart choice. Having a trust in place before you make your purchase can help ensure that you're buying a firearm that you'll then be able to legally pass on to your family or friends.
You'll be protecting your beneficiaries from legal trouble, fees, and paperwork. You'll avoid the risk that the executor of your estate won't be familiar with gun laws and will distribute your guns improperly. You'll be protecting your firearms from future laws preventing their transfer.
Filing a simple property trust isn't enough, and not just any attorney will do.
You need an experienced gun trust lawyer who can help ensure that the right kind of trust is filed.
A gun trust lawyer will be able to help you identify what types of guns can't be transferred with or without a trust. They'll help you navigate the paperwork you'll need to file, and the fees that the federal government and the state of Florida may require.
After your gun trust lawyer helps you set up your trust, they can also help you make any changes that you decide on down the road.
Start Creating a Gun Trust to Protect Your Assets Today
Are you ready to see how a gun trust can help protect your firearms and your loved ones from legal trouble, fees, paperwork, and more? If so, it's time to find an experienced gun trust lawyer who can help.
Attorneys at Brown, Huff, & Zohar Law has taken countless continuing legal education courses in the area of gun trusts, consulted with other gun trust experts and assisted a variety of gun owners with putting the right plan in place for the guns they own or seek to purchase. Ready to protect your prized firearms and prepare them to be transferred, either now or after your death? Contact us to get your questions answered, or to get started today!