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David Toback, Attorney at Law
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When Should a Gun Trust be Considered?

Of all the things that we think of leaving in trusts, or that we try to plan to make sure our beneficiaries receive, one thing is probably likely to slip someone’s mind when doing advance planning: guns. Despite where you stand on gun control, people own guns, they are property, some even have significant value, and many people may want to pass those gun on to relatives or beneficiaries.

Why Gun Trusts May Be Needed

The problem comes with gun laws and regulation. You may have passed all your tests and received all your licenses and registered whatever guns need to be registered. But the family member who is inheriting your guns may not have done the same. When your guns pass to them, making them the owner, are they suddenly violating gun laws? Not if a gun trust is used.

As a general rule, the more regulated or restricted the gun is, the more likely it is that a gun trust is needed. A smaller caliber weapon may not need a gun trust, whereas a heavy ammunition gun that you had to obtain a permit and register to even own likely does need a trust. Gun trusts are often used for NFA firearms, such as fully automatic guns, short barreled rifles, and short barrelled shotguns.

Of course, transferring guns normally often requires registrations, approval and other government involvement. These may include transfer taxes, local law enforcement approval, and involvement with the ATF. But a gun trust will allow the guns to pass without the approval process.

Legal Safety for Family

The gun trust also spares the executor of your estate from worrying about gun laws if the intention is to sell the guns. For example if you pass, the executor of your estate may be left with guns that he or she has no idea how to sell legally. But if you transfer the gun to a trust, the executor never owns the gun, thus eliminating those worries. The gun trust can then sell the guns safely, without the executor being liable for breaking the law.

The gun trust also can restrict children from inheriting guns, and the guns will avoid the court probate process entirely.

For guns that have restrictions on the number of users (most permits of regulated weapons only allow the permit owner to handle the gun, and not others, even when in the owner’s presence), the gun trust can allow there to be multiple owners of the gun. Thus multiple trustees of the trust can be named, and multiple people are authorized to sell or transfer the guns, if that is what is desired.

Of course, a gun trust doesn’t allow you to ignore all federal and state legislation, although there has been some discussion that gun trusts serve as a loophole to existing gun laws. Still, they can be useful for the gun owner that wants to protect their family and safely transfer their weapons.

Don’t leave those who inherit property at risk, or wondering how to administer federally regulated assets. Contact Tampa business and probate attorney David Toback to discuss your needs and make sure you understand how to best plan all areas of your estate.

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