A gun trust is a legal trust that is used to register NFA (or Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968) firearms with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The ownership of NFA firearms is heavily regulated and a gun trust is used to eliminate some of the issues with the ownership and transfer of the NFA regulated items.
26 U.S.C. 5845; 27 CFR 479.11 defines the following items as regulated under the NFA:
- a shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length;
- a weapon made from a shotgun if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length;
- a rifle having a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length;
- a weapon made from a rifle if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length;
- any other weapon, as define in subsection (e);
- a machinegun;
- any silencer (as defined in section 921 of title 18, United States Code); and
- a destructive device.
A gun trust provides a few benefits to these weapons, such as but not limited to:
- If you name more than one trustee, it allows more than one person to possess and use the weapon held in the trust;
- The firearm can remain in the trust after the death of the current owner avoiding transfer taxes and other hassles;
- Helps the executor (now a successor trustee) in avoiding violations of the law;
- Avoids probate
Although a gun trust appear to be similar to a revocable living trust at first glance, they are different and must be drafted to ensure that both state and federal laws are addressed. If you own any of the above Title II weapons, a gun trust is something that should be seriously considered.