If you own guns, you may be wondering whether you should transfer them to your Revocable Trust. There are a couple of reasons why that is generally a bad idea.
Reasons to Avoid Putting Guns in a Revocable Trust
First, the government regulates certain types of guns, known as “NFA firearms.” NFA firearms include machine guns, suppressors and silencers, short barrel rifles and shotguns, and destructive devices.
Second, certain beneficiaries of your Trust may be “prohibited persons” for purposes of gun ownership. Under Federal law, a prohibited person includes, but is not limited to, someone who:
- has been indicted for, or convicted of, a crime punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year;
- is a fugitive from justice;
- is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance;
- has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution;
- has been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces;
- is subject to a court order restraining the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening another person;
- has renounced citizenship of the United States; or
- has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. States have other laws which restrict certain persons from owning guns
Complex Laws Govern NFA Firearms
Complex laws govern NFA firearms. Violations of these laws can result in fines and imprisonment. It is not illegal for your Revocable Trust to own other types of weapons; however, there is a risk that the Trust’s terms will require the trustee to transfer a weapon to a person who is a prohibited person at the time of the distribution.
Although your beneficiaries may not currently be prohibited persons, there is always a possibility they may be in the future. If your Revocable Trust directs your trustee to transfer a weapon to a prohibited person, your Trustee could be breaking the law.
Additionally, your heirs may move to a different state. Therefore, there is also the risk that the terms of your trust will require your Trustee to transfer a weapon to a beneficiary across state lines. In such a case, the Trustee must satisfy potentially complex laws to avoid harsh penalties.
A Gun Trust Can Provide Legal Protection to You and Your Beneficiaries
If you do have guns, it is possible to write a special purpose “gun trust” to own these types of weapons.
A gun trust is a management trust created specifically to hold the title of firearms. The trust allows you to name a trustee or trustees who can legally possess, manage, and use firearms in the trust. It provides very detailed instructions to the Trustee to manage and distribute the firearms in a way that does not inadvertently violate any laws.