Updated: Jun 17
Gun trusts have many purposes and many benefits. They protect you, your heirs, and your firearms. Every gun owner should be aware of gun trusts and how they work. One of the most important functions of a gun trust is to protect you and your heirs from unintentionally breaking the law.
If you are a gun owner, a gun collector, or have any intention of owning a gun in the future, there are a few reasons why you should consider obtaining a gun trust:
1) Owning Title II Weapons and Devices
While there are some weapons that require a gun trust, any weapon may be placed into one. Weapons that require a gun trust are classified as Title II weapons, determined by the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968. The following qualify as Title II weapons and devices:
Short of “Sawed-Off” Shotguns (Barrel is less than 18” or Weapon is less than 26”)
Short Barreled Rifles (Barrel is less than 16” or Weapon is less than 26”)
Silencers (or “Suppressors”)
Destructive Devices (Grenades, Mortars, Rocket Launchers, Large Projectiles, and other heavy ordnance)
It is very common for many places to require a gun trust already in place before selling certain items, such as silencers, to customers. Ownership of Title II weapons isn’t illegal, but it is highly regulated on both the state and federal level. For example, a $200 tax is imposed on the federal level to manufacture certain Title II weapons. Some states, such as California, Delaware, and New York, prohibit the ownership of certain types of Title II weapons.
2) Legal Protection
It is very easy to commit an “accidental felony” by allowing others to possess or use a weapon without a trust in place. A gun trust can easily be set up to allow beneficiaries or successor trustees to use possess and/or use a weapon. For example, a silencer may not be used by anybody who is not a beneficiary or trustee. If you let a friend or family member who is not a beneficiary use a Title II weapon or device, even just a couple shots on the range, you both will have committed a felony.
A gun trust also allows you to pass your weapons to your beneficiaries and they will be able to enjoy all the same legal protections. There is no limit to the number of beneficiaries that may be named. They will each be granted to the same legal access to your weapons and devices.
A key difference between a trust and a will is privacy. All wills go through probate court and will be filed into public record. This gives the government and anybody else access to the list of everything you own and how it will be disbursed. Anything that is put into a trust, whether it is guns, property, or assets, will not go through probate court, which means neither the public nor the government will have access to that trust. It is for this reason that so many people prefer to put their assets into trusts.
If you have a gun trust in place, only the trustees and the beneficiaries will have access to your guns. This ensures an easier transfer of assets, especially weapons, to beneficiaries. Beneficiaries must still go through a background check and meet the same requirements as a grantor in order for the trustee to pass on any weapons.
Whether you collect guns or just have one, a gun trust is something at least worth considering. It is a small price to pay for the legal protection you and your heirs will receive. At Wilkerson Law Group, we have advised many clients and have helped them set up gun trusts. It is a priority for us to protect our clients and their interests. Schedule a free consultation with us today to learn more about how a gun trust may be beneficial for you.