Should I have a Firearms Trust?

Edited by Rory Clark

Are you a gun owner in Virginia? Do you have or are you looking to buy a firearm or sound suppressor regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA)? If that’s the case, you might want to consider setting up a Firearms Trust. Having a Firearms Trust allows you to provide for an orderly, legal transfer of control of your firearms. This transfer will go to an appropriate family member or other recipients in the event of your death. In addition, the Trust provides a way for you to share the use of property within the Trust. You will not have to comply with complex federal transfer laws or pay for expenses associated with tax stamps.

What Is A Firearms Trust?

A Firearms Trust is a revocable trust set up to hold the title to your firearms, especially property regulated under the NFA. The Trust, which acts through its trustee or trustees, becomes the legal owner of the trust property. Because the Trust is revocable, the Grantor can amend or cancel the trust agreement at any time before their death. They may add or replace trustees at any time, as they see fit. The Trust becomes irrevocable upon the Grantor’s death. After the Grantor dies, the Trust is managed by an alternate “successor” trustee for the individuals named as beneficiaries.

What Are the Advantages of Planning with a Firearms Trust?

A Firearms Trust must adhere to specific legal requirements in order to manage the Trust’s property. This way, it is in strict compliance with provisions of the NFA and its associated federal regulations. This dramatically reduces the risk of unintentional, or innocent, violations of federal guns laws. 

Violating federal gun rules, even inadvertently, can result in the confiscation of firearms. A prison sentence of up to five (5) years and significant fines.

Avoiding Inadvertent Violations

For example, it is a violation of federal law for an individual who owns an NFA regulated firearm or sound suppressor to allow any other person, including a spouse, to inherit, use, possess, or even temporarily borrow any covered item without that person having first obtained permission from the federal government and paid for a $200 “tax stamp” (that can take 6 to 12 months to process).

All of these acts are unlawful “transfers” and subject the owner to stiff penalties. Similarly, the person who inherits, uses, possesses, or even temporarily borrows any such property without first obtaining such federal permission and receiving the expensive “tax stamp” is also in violation of federal law and subject to stiff penalties, including time in prison. 

Trust Uses

The use of a trust allows for the straightforward naming of additional trustees during the Grantor’s lifetime, without prior approval or payment of taxes, who may share possession and control of trust property. The same strategy is used to name successor trustees to take control and possession of trust property after the trust creator’s death without federal approval or payment of special taxes.  

Protecting Your Privacy

A Firearm Trust also protects the privacy of gun owners by keeping their firearms information confidential. Because trusts are not subject to the probate process, so long as the property is held in Trust, it is never subject to public disclosure or court-supervised administration of the Grantor’s estate. The use of a Firearm Trust also ensure that firearms are only inherited by beneficiaries that the Grantor is confident will hold and use them properly and safely down the generations.

The Legacy Elder Law Center Can Help

To guarantee that a Firearm Trust offers protection for you and your beneficiaries, visit the Legacy Elder Law Center. To learn more, visit our website today. Our attorneys can draft a Firearms Trust that conforms with all State and Federal regulations. We are happy to incorporate your Trust into your estate plan.

About the author

Rory Clark

Rory has more than 30 years’ experience practicing elder law, estate planning, asset protection, Veteran’s affairs, and special needs planning. Through his personal journey, Rory not only understands the complex legal issues involved as a professional but also the intense emotional issues as a caregiver.