As any experienced gun owner will tell you, when you hand a gun to someone, make sure the safety is on. That same “safety first” mentality should apply to the transfer of firearms through an estate.
Your guns will likely be one of the most regulated assets you pass on – not as to how you owned the guns themselves, but as to how the guns can be transferred and to whom. Distributing a firearm to someone who has no business, legally or realistically, owning a gun can result in personal liability for the trustee or executor.
This is where comprehensive and thorough planning comes in. Guns should be treated as a specific asset with specific instructions, not just another piece of personal property. The issue is compounded if there is a collection of guns, guns with significant monetary or subjective value, or guns that are restricted under the National Firearms Act (fully automatic, suppressors, etc.). An example of how things can get hairy for a trustee or executor (the “Fiduciary”) distributing firearms to your beneficiaries:
The Fiduciary is instructed via your will or trust to distribute all of your personal property (including firearms) to your son without any specific provision for the firearms. Your son, prior to your death, was convicted of a felony and your plan was never changed. The Fiduciary distributes to your son all of the rifles and pistols in your collection. Your son is now a felon in possession of a firearm, a violation of state law (and potentially federal law) and punishable by up to 4 years in prison. A plan that establishes the duty of the Fiduciary to make sure the beneficiary of firearms is qualified, under state and federal law, to receive and own a firearm is incumbent upon a successful estate firearms transfer.
Not to mention the benefit of having a more structured transition of firearms on the safety of the general public. Placing a gun in the hands of someone who, legally and realistically, shouldn’t have a gun is a risk to the general public.
Gun Trusts are a component of a comprehensive estate plan. The first step is to get the planning process started. Take the first step by calling today.