Do You Need a Gun Trust?


If you're a collector of firearms, you may be wondering how to handle these items in your estate plan. One approach that has been gaining popularity in recent years is the gun trust.

Sometimes referred to as an NFA trust, the purpose of this type of trust is to allow the owners of firearms to share them legally and responsibly with family members. They offer a certain level of protection from future efforts to pass legislation prohibiting the sale or possession of firearms. For example, obtaining restricted firearms through a gun trust exempts trust members from requirements such as being fingerprinted, undergoing a background check, and obtaining approval from law enforcement. They can also be used to assist in the process of transferring firearms to states with different gun laws.

Another important advantage of a gun trust is that it prevents the need for a collection of firearms to go through the probate process after your death. All trust assets are excluded from probate, which can be time consuming and expensive. If desired, it can even be arranged for the weapons to stay in the trust upon your death. This would allow your heirs to avoid paying the transfer tax.

Gun trusts most often include weapons regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934 (hence the name NFA trust) and a revision of that law, Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968. This includes machine guns, short-barreled rifles or shotguns, and silencers. However, even weapons that are not currently covered under these laws may be included in a gun trust as a way of protecting them from any future legislative changes. If desired, there's no reason why you can't include non-restricted firearms like semiautomatic rifles and pistols in your gun trust as a preventative measure.

A gun trust is different from other types of trusts because it may have multiple trustees and can be set up to last for more than one generation. Anyone who is designated as an authorized user under the terms of the gun trust has the legal authority to use firearms owned by the trust. Without a trust, only the person listed as the purchaser may use the weapon.

How Can We Help?

An estate planning attorney can provide further advice on creating a gun trust to handle the distribution of your collection of firearms. Please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at Our family practice attorneys are happy to meet with you to discuss your concerns and develop a customized estate plan that will best meet your needs