What is a Gun Trust?

Legal Article

What is a Gun Trust?

Making a mistake when passing on your financial assets could lead to tax consequences. However, if you make a mistake when passing on your gun collection, your heirs could face felony charges. Thus, to avoid unnecessary legal issues when transferring your gun collection, you should consider utilizing a National Firearm Act (NFA) gun trust.

What is a Gun Trust?

A gun trust is a generic term for an irrevocable or revocable management trust that accepts weapons and/or firearms. Revocable trusts are more popular than irrevocable trusts as they allow the creator of the trust to make changes during their lifetime.

Anyone that legally owns a firearm could put this weapon in a gun trust. However, these trusts are most commonly used for weapons that fall under Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968. Examples of Title II Weapons include:

  • Fully automatic machine guns
  • Short-barreled shotguns (suppressors), also known as silencers. These are the most common NFA weapons that are purchased and owned by a gun trust.

Types of Gun Trusts

As mentioned above, there are both revocable and irrevocable gun trusts.

Revocable Gun Trusts: A revocable gun trust is similar to any other revocable trust with the only difference lies in that this revocable trust contains specific language to the National Firearms Act. Revocable trusts for guns are popular as if you would like to add or remove a trustee during your lifetime, you can make the necessary amendments.

Irrevocable Gun Trusts: Like a revocable gun trust, irrevocable gun trusts contain NFA specific language. However, irrevocable trusts are not as popular as they do not allow specific changes after the signing of the trust.

Why Use a Gun Trust?

One of the most important aspects of a gun trust is that it makes using and managing your firearms easier. If you have a class 3 firearms license, you know that you cannot allow any of your relatives or friends to store or use your weapon—even if you are with them. However, these restrictions do not apply if you have a gun trust in place. The reason for this is that your trustees and beneficiaries can legally operate or possess any of the weapons that you placed in the trust.

Additionally, if you use a gun trust, you do not usually need to visit your local Chief Law Enforcement Officer for fingerprinting approval.

Finally, a gun trust makes passing on your firearms to your heirs much easier. With a gun trust, your legal beneficiaries will only need to submit an ATF form 5 to inherit your weapons. This form also states that the settlor should take action as soon as possible to ease the registration process.

What a Gun Trust Cannot Do

Though gun trusts are vital is passing down your firearms, there are some limitations with these trusts.

  • Bypass Firearm Limitations: A gun trust does not allow you to pass down any weapons that would otherwise have to be obtained illegally. Thus, as California prohibits silencers, you cannot pass down a silencer to a California resident.
  • Permit Illegal Users: You cannot use a gun trust to pass on a firearm to someone who would otherwise not be able to possess the weapon. For example, you cannot pass down a Model 16 rifle to a 16-year-old child.
  • Registration Removal: Whether or not you have a gun trust in place, you will still need the $200 NFA tax stamp. This means that you must pay this fee and register the firearm with the ATF.

Contact Our DC Law Office for More Information

Finally, for more on what is a gun trust, contact us at 202-803-5676. You can also directly schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys. Additionally, for general information on legal issues, check out our blog.