Some estate assets require a little more care than others. It’s not difficult to leave someone the family china, but firearms are a different story. Some guns are strictly regulated, and passing them incorrectly can cause real problems. Gun trusts are created primarily to provide a way to handle guns that are regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA). If you currently own guns or will be inheriting some, the following 3 reasons to set up a gun trust are for you.
Firearms placed in a trust usually pass immediately to the trust beneficiaries. Ownership can be transferred easily and quickly, although ATF is needed for certain weapons. A gun trust can even be structured to keep the guns in the trust instead of passing to an individual.
Because federal law regulates the transfer and possession of NFA firearms, owners of such items who allow other individuals to access their guns may be committing a felony. Transfer is defined very broadly. A situation where a spouse simply knows the combination to the gun safe where NFA firearms are kept (even if the spouse does not actually access the safe) may be considered constructive possession and therefore a violation of federal law. However, when NFA guns are owned by a trust, others are allowed to use the guns as long as they are not prohibited to do so by law. This can be done by naming others as trustees, co-trustees, or beneficiaries.
Probate is a public process and leaves behind public records. Assets passed through a Will become public knowledge. However, assets passed through a trust – like NFA firearms – are kept private. No one will be able to snoop through probate records to see what you received through a trust.
We look forward to discussing your concerns and setting up a gun trust that works for you. Attorney John Mangan is board certified in Wills, Trusts & Estates by the Florida Bar. Please call us at 772-324-9050 or use our Contact Form to set up an appointment. We help clients throughout Florida, including Stuart, Palm City, Hobe Sound, Jupiter, and Port St. Lucie.