Firearms such as short-barreled rifle or shotguns, silencers or suppressors, and machine guns (i.e., Title II firearms) are regulated by the federal government as to their purchase, transfer and manufacture. Properly drafted Gun Trusts have been an effective estate planning technique to own and use Type II firearms for several reasons, including:
- Every Trustee of a Gun Trust can legally use and operate a Type II firearm, whereas an individual owner of a Title II firearm is the only individual who can use or possess a Title II firearm;
- A Gun Trust protects other persons with access to the firearm from arrest, prosecution, and conviction for possession (or constructive possession); and
- A Gun Trust provides continuity in ownership of the firearms to beneficiaries of the Trust without having to pay transfer taxes, submit additional paperwork to government agencies, or wait for extended periods of time through the probate process.
After July 13, 2016, new Gun Trust regulations will take effect. The regulations can be found here. A significant change will be the requirement for all Title II firearm Gun Trust applications to be completed by all Trustees of a Gun Trust. Each Trustee will be required to submit their fingerprints, photographs, submit to a background check, and notify their local chief law enforcement officer of the acquisition of a Type II firearm. Presently, only one Trustee needs to submit to a background check for a Gun Trust application for a Type II firearm and there are no requirements for fingerprints or photographs or notifications to your chief law enforcement officer.
A properly drafted Gun Trust can provide many benefits to those looking to possess, own, and control Title II firearms. Those seeking to acquire a Title II firearm may want to establish a Gun Trust and submit their application before the new regulations take effect on July 13, 2016.