What is a Gun Trust?
A gun trust is a special type of trust designed to address issues that are unique to firearms, which are one of the most heavily regulated types of personal property in the United States. Many ordinary law-abiding citizens use gun trusts to acquire and enjoy NFA firearms. Most gun trusts are highly customized revocable living trusts that address the rights and duties of the parties to the gun trust relating to the use, possession, and transfer of firearms. In practice, trusts determine how a single person, or married couple's firearms are to be managed during their lifetime, in the event of their incapacity, and upon their death. Because firearms in the gun trust pass privately to the beneficiaries outside of the probate court process, many people also assign their non-NFA firearms to their gun trusts. A well-written gun trust can serve as a comprehensive estate plan for all of the settlor (the creator of the trust) or settlors' firearms that are assigned to or acquired by the gun trust.
What are the Main Benefits of a Gun Trust?
- NFA firearms registered to a gun trust can be used or possessed by more than one person. NFA-restricted firearms are not permitted to be transported or handled by any other individual unless the registered owner is present. However, when owned by a properly drafted gun trust, these weapons may be legally used and possessed by the trustee, and any beneficiary may use the firearm under the authority of, or in the presence of the trustee. The Settlor has the ability to name any person as a co-trustee, or a beneficiary - which are allowed to use and possess the NFA firearms throughout the Settlor's lifetime.
- NFA firearms registered to a gun trust pass to the beneficiaries of the gun trust outside of the probate process according to the terms and conditions of the gun trust agreement prepared by the settlor. NFA firearms registered to an individual's last will and testament, which is probabted in probate court and provided to the ATF during the transfer process so the executor can prove to the ATF that the individual intended to transfer the NFA firearms to the beneficiaries.
- If your NFA firearms are owned by you individually and you are later deemed to be incompetent, your NFA firearms are subject to confiscation immediately since it is illegal for any other individual to take possession of your NFA firearms. On the other hand, if your gun trust owns your NFA firearms, any co-trustee can take possession of your NFA firearms to hold them on your behalf. In other words, you will not lose the ownership of your firearms due to incompetency. As a result, you will retain the ability to either direct that the NFA firearms be sold and the cash returned to you, or that the NFA firearms continue to be held in trust for the beneficiaries to inherity when you die.
Frequently Asked Questions About Gun Trusts
Q: Do I Need to Register or Record my Gun Trust with the State of Arkansas or with the ATF?
A: No. Since the Gun Trust is a revocable trust, it does not need to be registered or recorded with the ATF or the State of Arkansas or any county or local government entity. An NFA Gun Trust is not a public document. However, when the trust files and application with the ATF to transfer or make an NFA firearm purchase/application, a complete copy of the Gun Trust and any amendments are filed with the application.
Q: Does the gun trust include an inventory of the firearms assigned to the trust?
A: No. Our gun trust does not require and inventory of the firearms that have been assigned or acquired by the gun trust to be listed or as an exhibit to the gun trust. The only property disclosed in our gun trust is $1.00. All documents that disclose firearms that are assigned or acquired by the gun trust are not part of our gun trust itself. As a result, your inventory of firearms is not disclosed to anyone whom you do not want to see it, including the gun shop employees and the ATF, when you buy NFA firearms. This is probably the most important difference between our gun trust and just about any other gun trust sold by other "gun trust attorneys." Most of these gun trusts include "schedules" (an old-fashioned word for exhibits or attachments), which need to be amended each time another firearm is assigned or acquired by their gun trust. Because of the criticisms of "schedules," many of these gun trust attorneys and gun stores have simply removed the term "schedule" from their gun trust document, but they still have the same inventory list incorporated into their gun trust document - so that they could advertise that their gun trusts did not include "schedules." Since gun shop employees will request a complete copy of your gun trust when you buy another NFA firearm, you are therefore being forced into the position of being required to disclose a detailed list of your firearms to every person (including gun shop employees and ATF agents) who happend to handle the gun trust.