GUN TRUST (FIREARM TRUST)
A Gun Trust (or Firearms Trust) is a type of revocable trust in Florida that is created by a gun owner for the special purpose of: (i) holding their regulated guns, ammunition, and accessories during their lifetime; and (ii) providing for an orderly transfer of such possession to a family member or heir upon the death of the gun owner.
Most often, a Gun Trust is used for those who own NFA/Title II (Class 3) weapons, such as machine guns, short barreled rifles and shotguns, silencers or sound suppressors. However, a Gun Trust can also be used for Title I weapons, such as ordinary pistols, revolvers, and rifles.
How It Works
Just like a standard trust, the grantor/gun owner transfers ownership of his/her guns to the Gun Trust to be held by trustee during life of the grantor. Generally, the grantor and trustee are the same person during the lifetime of the gun owner. Since a gun trust is revocable, it can be easily modified or revoked during the lifetime of the gun owner.
In addition, during the life of the gun owner, guns held in the trust can legally be shared with family and friends. Each party who will have access to and use of the gun(s) must be named a co-trustee of the trust and must go through the same required background checks, identification requirements, and any other federal- or state-imposed requirements as the original gun owner.
Purchase of a Gun with a Trust
A Florida Gun Trust can be used to purchase NFA/Title II (Class 3) regulated firearms, ammunition, and firearm-related accessories, but it is not required. Certainly, you can purchase these types of regulated weapons in your own name, but you will not receive the same protection had they been purchased by the trust (such as the ability to share them with other).
Did You Know?: When an individual purchases a NFA/Title II (Class 3) firearm, the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO), or the city or county where the individual resides, is required to sign a "Form 4" document to approve such purchase. Many CLEO's refuse to sign any request for the purchase of these types of firearms. However, if you purchase a NFA/Title II (Class 3) firearm using a Gun Trust - where the Gun Trust is the purchaser and title holder of the firearm - the trust is not required to submit fingerprints or seek the approval of the local chief of police. Instead, the federal government will verify and investigate the application, and they tend to be more lenient when a Gun Trust purchases the NFA/Title II (Class 3) firearm.
Transferring Guns After Death
After the death of the gun owner, the guns are transferred by the trustee to one or more designated beneficiaries. These beneficiaries are usually either the original gun owner’s spouse, children, or other family member. However, a beneficiary of a gun trust must pass the necessary background checks, identification requirements and other federal- or state-imposed requirements as the original gun owner.
A well-designed Gun Trust can make it easier to control and share access to your gun collection while you are alive, and control what happens to your gun collection if you become incapacitated, legally prohibited from owning firearms, and when you die. Additionally, a gun trust, unlike a will, allows you to maintain a certain amount of privacy about your registered guns.
A Gun Trust is relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of administering an estate through probate, and there are numerous potential consequences of violating the complex federal and state laws surrounding the use and ownership of firearms, especially NFA/Title II (Class 3) firearms. This is why you should always consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure your specific goals and all legal requirements are met.
If you want to learn more about the different types of Gun Trust plans offered by my law office, please contact me today!