The Basics of Gun Trusts

Charleston Gun Trusts or Firearm TrustsGun trusts, or firearm trusts, are a specific form of revocable trusts that allow for the future transfer of ownership of guns and/or firearms to a desired trustee, or heir. One important benefit to gun trusts is that they avoid the typically $200 transfer tax  and they circumvent court involvement, as opposed to including a gun or firearm in the Last Will & Testament. The fact that a gun trust does not require court oversight or any involvement in the probate process also reduces the burdens placed upon the personal representative and the loved ones that will have to divide up estate properties and assets. Gun trusts are also valuable for evading any potential or future gun restrictions that might otherwise hamper the transfer to family members and loved ones. These trusts are also unique in that they can assign multiple trustees, so that several loved ones or family members can have legal access and authority to use these guns or firearms.

Important Federal Gun Trust Laws

While gun trusts are useful devices for transferring the ownership of guns or firearms, there are still several restricting federal gun laws that must be considered before constructing a gun trust. These federal gun laws still apply to any heir or trustee who may receive a gun or firearm in all 50 states:

  • The firearm may not be transported or trusted into a state in which it is prohibited ( 18 U.S.C.A. §926A)
  • The gun or firearm may not be trusted to “prohibited persons,” including: felons, mentally incapacitated persons, fugitives from justice, substance abusers, illegal aliens, dishonorable discharges, domestic violence offenders and certain restrained persons depending on the restraining order (18 U.S.C.A. §922(d))
  • The trustee must have an authorized firearms licence in order to obtain a firearm through a gun trust (18 U.S.C.A. §923)
  • Machine guns may not be transferred through the use of a gun trust (18 U.S.C.A. §922(o))
  • Trustees must complete a proper background check before being entrusted with a firearm as per the Brady Bill (18 U.S.C. §922(t))

For any additional information or further questions regarding the construction of a gun trust or relevant gun and firearm laws, contact one of our Charleston estate planning attorneys.