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The role of gun trusts in estate planning

The number of Americans who purchase and own firearms has been on the rise in recent years. Statistics compiled by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is run by the FBI, indicate that the number of firearm purchases has risen since 2012, and that last December's numbers were also higher than the year prior. This means that more and more households contain guns, many of which are highly valuable. For those in New Jersey who have a valuable firearm collection, the topic of gun trusts within estate planning may be of interest.

A gun trust is a trust designed specifically to act as the legal "owner" of the firearms. When the creator of the trust passes away, the guns held within that trust can be passed on to the designated heirs outside of the probate process. Additionally, if the heirs are not gun enthusiasts, a trustee can be named who can assist the family in the proper way to obtain an estimated value for the firearms and coordinate their sale.

Creating a gun trust has benefits that begin far before an individual's death. In fact, creating a gun trust can ease the way for the purchase and ownership of certain types of federally regulated guns. Specifically, these include Title II weapons such as certain types of silencers and machine guns. When acquiring such weapons, the trust itself acts as the purchasing entity within the transaction.

The proper creation of a gun trust is key to a successful outcome. The attorney who drafts the trust paperwork must be aware of all applicable regulations on firearms, both at the state and federal level. It is especially important to ensure that the right trustee is chosen, and that the individual given this role is capable and willing to handle the duties outlined within the applicable estate planning documents. For New Jersey residents who have amassed a significant collection of firearms, having a gun trust in place can provide a great deal of peace of mind.

Source: investmentnews.com, "Bull's-eye: How gun trusts can hit the mark with clients' estate planning", Darla Mercado, Jan. 14, 2015

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