[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Everyone who owns a gun should consider a gun trust. The federal government started regulating firearms with the National Firearms Act of 1934. In 1968, the Gun Control Act put in place strict guidelines for the ownership, transfer and possession of Title II firearms.
Examples of Title II firearms are:
- Fully automatic guns
- Short barreled (“sawed off”) shotguns and rifles
- Explosive devices
One of the rules for Title II firearms is that only manufacturers, makers and importers are allowed to register them. When the legislation was passed, “owner” was defined to include not only individuals but also corporations and trusts. Because trusts have fewer public reporting and registration requirements than corporations, trusts have developed as the “entity of choice” to hold guns and certainly to hold Title II firearms.[/vc_column_text][divider line_type=”No Line” custom_height=”40″][vc_text_separator title=”A Special-purpose Trust” title_align=”separator_align_left”][vc_column_text]A gun trust is a very unique, special purpose trust. Simply adding a paragraph or two to your living trust is not going to convert that trust into a gun trust that can legally acquire and own a Title II firearm.
The four main benefits that gun trusts are:
- Multiple ownership: As a general rule, a firearm can only be owned by one individual. A Title II firearm can be used only by that particular individual. A gun trust allows such use to be expanded to multiple individuals, the trustees. On thing that is unique to a gun trust — the trustee has the right to use the firearms owned by the trust. In virtually every other trust, the trustee simply maintains and manages assets for the use and benefit of the beneficiary.
- Easier registration: As an individual, in order to register a Title II firearm, you must be fingerprinted, undergo a background check and get local law enforcement’s approval. With a gun trust, that’s not the case. Simply put, you cannot fingerprint or check the criminal record of a trust. Legislators also do not require that trustees undergo a background check.
- Ease of transfer: A transfer for the purposes of federal, and most state, laws is going to occur when the trust terminates and distributes out to a beneficiary. At that point, you have the same transfer rules that are applicable to any individual ownership. The beauty of a gun trust, however, is that you effectively can make a transfer within the gun trust simply by changing the trustees of the trust.
- Probate avoidance: Just as in a living trust, a gun trust can be used to avoid probate with assets owned by the trust at the time of a person’s death. When someone dies, federal law provides that the executor for the estate becomes responsible and liable for the oversight and control of the Title II firearms. Such person must take possession, and no one else has the right to possess the Title II firearms. With a gun trust, the death of the person setting up the trust, or of a trustee, does not trigger the termination of the trust unless the trust specifically provides for such termination. If there is no termination, there is no need for re-registration at the person’s death.