Each and every asset of our estate raises specific considerations and firearms are no different. Firearms are unique assets in terms of estate planning, in part, due to their regulation under both state and federal law which subsequently impact and present unique estate planning decisions, including: who should be chosen to serve in a fiduciary capacity over the estate and trust; who should be named as beneficiaries to inherit the firearm; and how the transfer of the firearm is made from the decedent owner to the beneficiary.  Although not required for every type of firearm, a gun trust can offer the ability to ensure that the firearm’s owner’s wishes are followed while simultaneously ensuring that the ownership transfer of the firearm complies with state and federal law.

Take, for example, the following fictional family:

Father (age 55) owns three firearms, all of which he lawfully purchased.  Father wants to leave all his firearms to Daughter (age 19), his only child, upon his death.  Father has a will, and properly names Daughter as his sole beneficiary and names his younger Brother to serve as Personal Representative.  Notably, twenty years ago, Brother was convicted of a felony but has maintained a clean record ever since and is a trustworthy person.  One year later Father dies and Brother is appointed to serve as Personal Representative–what happens?  

Brother, by becoming Personal Representative, is considered to possess Father’s firearms.  Due to Brother’s 20 year old felony conviction, Brother is prohibited under state and federal law from possessing firearms.  In other words, Brother now has committed an accidental felony, subjecting him to fines and imprisonment (potentially including a personal fine of up to $250,000 and imprisonment for up to 10 years).  Additionally, even if Brother had no prior felony conviction, he could commit an accidental felony if the manner in which he transfers the firearms to Daughter fails to comply with all state and federal law. 

This type of scenario may be avoided with special planning.  A gun trust provides peace of mind as this type of trust is carefully drafted to comply with state and federal law and also to carry out your estate planning goals.

Please contact John P. Fritz to begin designing your personalized gun trust.