Reasons to Consider Establishing a California Gun Trust
There are many different considerations that should be taken into account when drafting an estate plan. It is important to consider how money and other assets will be passed down to our families after we pass away. Just as we need to specify what will happen with our homes and vehicles as part of an estate plan, firearm owners also need to consider what will happen with their guns after their death. For many gun owners, a gun trust may be a viable option for handling this aspect of the estate. To learn more, contact the experienced California gun trust lawyers at John Park Law today: 925-320-7077.
What Is a Gun Trust?
A gun trust is a revocable trust that allows gun owners to protect their guns during their lifetime and pass their guns down to loved ones after their death with minimal challenges. Like other types of trusts, a gun trust is a legal entity that acts as the legal owner of the firearm. Named beneficiaries of the trust will be legally permitted to continue using the firearms after the death of the owner.
Without a gun trust, only the gun’s legal owner may use the gun with other individuals. A gun trust allows others to take the gun out and use it without the owner because the trust is the official legal owner of the gun. For example, if the owner of a hunting rifle does not have a gun trust, he may only allow family members to use the rifle if he is present. However, if a family member is designated as a beneficiary in a gun trust, that family member is legally allowed to use the rifle without the owner being present.
What Types of Guns Should Be Added to a Gun Trust?
While any legal firearm can be included in a gun trust, this type of trust is most commonly used for weapons that fall under the National Firearms Act (NFA) Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968. Some common examples of Title II weapons include:
- Short-barreled rifles
- Machine guns
- Short-barreled shotguns
- Destructive devices (e.g. bazookas, mortars)
- Any other weapons (AOW)
Including Title II or NFA firearms in a gun trust can help prevent legal complications that may arise if attempting to directly transfer ownership of the firearms to a family member.
Benefits of a California Gun Trust
There are several advantages of including a gun trust as part of an estate plan in California:
- Avoid probate – Assets held in any type of trust are not subject to the probate process. Guns that are not included in gun trusts must go through probate upon the owner’s death, which can be an expensive and time-consuming process.
- More than one person can use the guns – Title II firearms can legally only be used by the gun’s owner. Because a gun trust acts as the legal owner of the gun, this allows anyone named as a trustee to also use the guns included in the trust.
- Fewer headaches for the executor of the estate – The executor, or individual legally obligated to handle the estate, may not be aware of gun ownership rules and laws. A gun trust can help the executor avoid making legal mistakes, including criminal law violations.
- Avoid transfer requirements – A gun trust can ease the process of transferring gun ownership. The guns will remain in the trust during and after the owner’s death and the owner has the option to grant specific rights to trustees and beneficiaries under the terms of the trust. Inheritors can avoid transfer taxes, ATF transfer forms, and other transfer requirements that would be necessary without a gun trust.
How an Estate Planning Lawyer Can Help with Gun Trusts
Estate planning can be a complicated process. It is critical to consider how state and federal laws will affect this process. Each estate is unique, and the best options for each family will vary depending on the assets of that family. For many families, this process may be easier with guidance from an experienced estate planning lawyer.
Gun owners should consider the best way to transfer ownership of their firearms in the event of their death. Preparing for the future can help prevent our loved ones from the stress of handling these transfers on their own. At John Park Law, our experienced estate planning lawyers are ready to help gun owners add gun trusts to their estate plans, along with all other estate planning concerns. You can learn more about estate planning and gun trusts by contacting us today at 925-320-7077.