Indiana Gun Trust Attorney
If you are a gun owner, you’ve likely thought about what will happen to your firearms in the event of your incapacity or death. Enter the gun trust, a flexible way to tackle the issue of possession and transfer. Gun trusts are valuable estate planning tools that can allow firearm owners to plan for beneficiaries and avoid legal hassles, especially given the patchwork of regulations among the states. For those looking to buy a firearm that is subject to the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA), consider creating a gun trust before adding it to your collection.
The Floyd County NFA trust lawyers at McNeely Stephenson have guided many people through the process of asset protection efficiently and effectively. When you’re ready to discuss developing such a strategy for your firearms, we are here for you. We understand the sensitive nature of these topics and are committed to providing each of our clients with personal attention. We encourage you to speak candidly about your wishes so that together, we can map out the best route possible. To discuss your situation and make a plan, contact our office by calling 812-725-8224 or filling out our online form.
Gun trusts are particularly beneficial for acquiring and passing on NFA-regulated items.
Most often, the items are classified under Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968, which revised the NFA and includes:
- Machine guns
- Short-barreled rifles (SBR)
- Short-barreled shotguns (SBS)
- Destructive devices (DD)
- “Any other weapon” (AOW).
These weapons must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) in the owner’s name, who also must submit fingerprints, a photograph of himself or herself, and fee payment (tax stamp Form 4). The signature of the jurisdiction’s Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) must also be obtained. That person is then the only one entitled to possess the firearm, and leaving it accessible to others can result in criminal charges. Given those requirements, there are clear advantages to using a gun trust to hold a Title II weapon – no fingerprints, photos, or CLEO signature are required, and placing title into a trust allows possession by any of the co-trustees of the trust. Additionally, the trust does not dissolve when a co-trustee dies, so as assets of the trust, there is no need for the firearms to pass through a decedent’s estate. That means there is no transfer procedure and no probate.
Trustees must still follow the provisions of all applicable federal and state laws, including:
- the Brady Act
- filing Form 5 with the BATFE when seeking to transfer an NFA item to an heir
- notifying the BATFE via Form 5320.20 in advance of plans to cross state lines with such item
- restricting out-of-state trustee access and use to the state where the trust is registered or those states on Form 5320.20
- not allowing ownership by convicted felons, drug abusers, alcohol abusers, mental incompetents, minors, and those convicted for any crime involving the inability to safely handle a handgun.
Improper transfers can result in accidental felonies, which can be a concern when one spouse is a gun enthusiast and the other is not. Trusts can be used to avoid this problem as well as a way to provide beneficiaries with income from selling the firearms. While gun trusts have a lot of benefits for those who want to carve firearms out of their estate, they are not the only option. Guns can be kept with other possessions in a general trust as long as everything is being given to the same person. To avoid potential complications, individuals who take that approach should be sure that language is added to the trust that specially addresses the firearms. While it may be tempting to use a fill-in-the-blank form supplied by a gun shop or from an online source, these products rarely provide adequate protection. Gun trusts are complex and must be tailored to each person’s specific needs.
If you own or plan to purchase a Title II weapon, the New Albany, IN, gun trust lawyers at McNeely Stephenson can help. We understand the issues and can guide you through the planning process. We will work closely with you and help you make the best decisions possible. For skilled and knowledgeable representation, contact us by calling 812-725-8224 or filling out our online form. Based in New Albany, Indiana, we proudly serve communities throughout Kentuckiana, including, but not limited to, Jefferson County, KY; Floyd County, IN; Clark County, IN; and Harrison County, Indiana.