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Find out why passing them along in a will may not be a good idea.

Whether you own guns for sporting purposes like hunting, are a collector, or have purchased one for personal protection, did you know that when it comes time to pass them along to an heir, that The National Firearms Act (NFA) has regulations about who can inherit them?

According to an article we ran across a while ago on markalbertson.com, even state or local jurisdictions may have  gun transfer rules.

Quoting the Albertson story, there are commonly-known restrictions; for instance, people convicted of felonies, the mentally ill, people convicted of domestic violence laws, or drug trafficking are not allowed to own guns.  Less commonly known is that dishonorably discharged veterans, and persons who have renounced their U.S. citizenship are also not allowed to own guns.

What do these prohibitions mean for the executor of your estate?

Consequently, if an executor follows instructions in a will that directs the distribution of firearms to people in the categories above, the executor is violating the NFA and may be subject to criminal and civil penalty.  Even more nerve-wracking is that merely having a gun appraised can cause its seizure. Because of this, bequeathing guns in a will is not a prudent way to plan.

Albertson suggests the best way to transfer weapons is to use a revocable living trust designed specifically for the transfer ownership, and possession of weapons. Many estate planning attorneys call these “NFA” trusts or also “gun trusts.”  Using a gun trust can avoid many of the challenges of passing on firearms, or at least minimizes the challenges. Some people use A corporation or LLC can also be used to own weapons, but they create an unnecessary layer of complexity and cost in that you have to pay yearly fees to the State to keep the entity in existence, and very often have to file tax returns. The Gun Trust does not require annual fees, does not require tax returns, and in addition, is more private than a corporation or LLC.

Learn more by doing an online search of “gun trust” – there’s plenty of information out there, like this one from Nolo.com:

Using a Gun Trust to Pass on Firearms

This specialized trust can help executors avoid violating criminal gun laws. Be sure to ask your estate attorney about setting up a gun trust for your estate.

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