What Are the Benefits of a Gun Trust?
To get a NFA Gun Trust or not to get one. That is a common question. While having an NFA Gun Trust is a fantastic idea, it might not be necessary for everyone. In all realities, though, every responsible gun owner should have one. Let’s focus on why you should have an NFA Gun Trust. QUICK NOTE: I’m not an attorney and this article isn’t to be taken as legal advice. You should consult with an attorney in your state of residence, preferably one that is familiar with firearm laws.
For the sake of clarity for the article, we will assume that you are the original establisher of the gun trust, also referred to as the Grantor. Anyone listed in the NFA Gun Trust as an allowed individual (spouses, trusted friends, and so on) is a Trustee of the Trust. Anyone listed in the NFA Trust as someone who will inherit items from the Trust once the grantor is no longer alive are referred to as Beneficiaries. Beneficiaries of the Trust can sometimes be Trustees as well, but your attorney will help you draft your Trust accordingly.
An NFA Gun Trust is not just a fancy document that keeps your piece of mind intact in case something should happen to you. In the grand scheme of things, the main reason to have an NFA Gun Trust is that the Trust allows Trustees to be in possession of, transport, and use your firearms that are heavily regulated (think suppressors, short barreled rifles, and machine guns). Since certain items are tightly controlled by regulatory agencies, people who inherit those firearms but are not Trustees could unwittingly commit felonies.
As stated above, having a Gun Trust ensures that future generations or trusted friends would have access to those NFA items. The individuals would be able to possess, shoot, and generally just enjoy the NFA items that are owned by the Trust. Generally speaking, if an individual purchases an NFA item like a suppressor, only that individual would be able to be in possession or use of that item and anyone else in possession could be committing a crime. This can be avoided by having those items in a Trust, with Trustees allowed to be in possession of them.
A Gun Trust would help protect all the parties, whether you, the Grantor, are alive or not. It also allows the transfer of NFA items to those inheriting them upon the death of the Grantor without incurring the $200 transfer tax to get it to the new owner.
Additionally, in the event of the death of the Grantor, having a Trust will allow your estates to bypass probate for your firearms and other possessions, shielding your possessions from becoming a matter of public record.
A Gun Trust does not just protect the NFA items that are purchased by the Trust. It can also hold non-NFA items such as handguns, shotguns, rifles, and in many cases, family heirlooms. Usually, it is a simple process to move firearms into a Trust like listing the items out on a schedule document at the end of the Trust. Once items are in a Trust, they are afforded the
protections of the Trust like an NFA item.
Now that we have covered in the event of death, let’s talk about how the Trust would benefit you while you are alive. As mentioned above, if an individual is in possession of an NFA item from a Trust and that person isn’t listed as a trustee of that Trust, they could be committing a crime.
In most instances, adding trusted parties to your Trust is a simple process, as is removal of Trustees. But it all comes down to how your Trust is drafted and established. The major plus of a Trust, is that they are drafted as revocable trusts, meaning they can be changed when you want or if the need arises, and can be very easy to do.
Gun Trusts also don’t interfere with other estate planning you may have done but work alongside your existing Estate. Additionally, Trusts do not have to be filed anywhere or with anyone, so it all stays private between the concerned parties.
Here is another thing to know about the Trusts when it comes to transfers: anyone that is listed as a trustee for the Trust will need to pass a background check and submit fingerprints and photos for the transfer. But remember, the Trust can be changed at any time, including trustees.
While a Gun Trust might not be necessary for all individuals, if you own NFA items, a gun trust will help ensure that you and individuals you deem as Trustees get to enjoy those items. Additionally, in the event of your death, it is a great tool to ensure your items go where you want them to while maintaining your privacy after the fact.