As you know, my general advice includes anything we can do to avoid the probate process. If you are a gun collector--or if you simply have a small stash--you may be wondering how to best leave these to your loved ones after you go. You may have heard of a gun trust, but you know little else about safe distribution of guns. If you have firearms that will outlive you, make sure you disclose this to your attorney during the estate planning process!
Bequeathing Firearms in Your Estate Plan
If you own firearms, you have options for how you want them to be distributed after your death. For example, you can bequeath them to specific individuals, sell them, or donate them to a gun safety organization. However, there are some legal considerations that you need to be aware of before you make any decisions:
State Laws. The laws governing the transfer of firearms vary from state to state. In some states, you can simply bequeath a firearm to a specific individual. In other states, you may need to go through a licensed firearms dealer. You should also be aware of any restrictions on who can own or receive a firearm in your state. For example, in some states, people who have been convicted of a felony or domestic violence are not allowed to own a firearm. (This is true in Kansas.) Also, make sure to let your attorney know if the person you want to receive the firearm lives in a different state.
Federal Laws. Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968 made ownership and transfer of certain types of firearms illegal. In fact, gun laws are quite complex. Any provision in your estate plan that transfers one of the mentioned weapons would be struck down in court and could subject your executor and/or beneficiary to criminal penalties if the provisions of this and other federal laws are violated. If you have "specialty" firearms, it is important to disclose this to your attorney so you can problem-solve how to transfer or otherwise dispose of these.
Gun Trusts. A gun trust is a legal document that allows you to control the ownership and transfer of your firearms after your death. A gun trust can be a useful way to avoid probate and to ensure that your firearms are distributed to the people you want them to go to. Your trustee would be responsible for ensuring that the recipient is eligible to receive the firearm--for example, checking the rules regarding transport and possession of the particular firearm.
Estate Planning Documents. Regardless of what method you choose, you should make sure that your estate planning documents include specific instructions about what you want to happen to your firearms after your death. While not every plan can be carried out, one plan that can NEVER be carried out is one you haven't made.
Bequeathing firearms in your estate plan can be a complex process. However, by following the advice of an experienced estate planning attorney, you can ensure that your firearms are distributed according to your wishes and that your family is protected from unwitting violations of the law.
Here are some additional tips for bequeathing firearms in your estate plan:
Be specific about which firearms you want to bequeath and to whom you want them to go.
Consider the age and maturity of the beneficiaries you are considering, as well as their general trustworthiness and citizenship qualities.
Make sure the beneficiaries are legally allowed to own firearms in your state.
If you are using a gun trust, make sure the trust is properly drafted and executed.
Review your estate planning documents regularly to make sure they reflect your current wishes.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your firearms are distributed in a way that is safe, legal, and in line with your wishes.
This post was created using assistance from Bard, an AI solution from Google.