Criminal Defense Lawyer Norfolk, VA and throughout Hampton Roads
Criminal Defense Lawyer Norfolk, VA and throughout Hampton Roads

Gun Trust Attorneys Serving Hampton Roads

If you own a Title II weapon, take action to protect your rights and legacy

Gun ownership is a right protected by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as an equivalent provision in the Virginia Constitution, but that right is not unlimited. Owning firearms comes with special rules and requirements, as well as potential legal penalties if those rules are violated. One of the times when the risk of running afoul of the law is highest is when you pass away and your weapons are passed along to your heirs through your estate.

If you own firearms or want to purchase a firearm, you need to account for it carefully in your estate planning strategy. For many Virginians, the right way forward is to establish a gun trust. The attorneys at Welch & Wright, PLLC can help protect your rights.

What is a gun trust?

A trust is a legal entity created to hold assets given by the person establishing a trust (the trustor or grantor) for the benefit of one or more named beneficiaries. The trust is managed by a trustee, who has a legal responsibility to manage the property for the benefit of the beneficiaries.

A gun trust is a type of trust created to hold legal title to one or more firearms. Gun trusts are also sometimes called NFA gun trusts or NFA trusts because they hold title to weapons covered by the National Firearms Act (NFA). Weapons controlled by the NFA can only be used and possessed by a single owner, and the owner must pay a $200 tax to transfer them to a new owner.

Types of National Firearms Act (NFA) controlled firearms and devices

  • Machine guns, defined as any firearm that fires more than one round per individual pull of the trigger.
  • Short barreled rifles (SBR), which are rifles with a barrel length of less than 16 inches.
  • Short barreled shotguns (SBS), defined as shotguns with a barrel length of less than 18 inches.
  • Silencers, suppressors, and mufflers.
  • Destructive devices, such as grenades, bombs, mines, rocket launchers, and mortars.
  • Any other weapons (AOW), defined as devices capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged using an explosive. Examples include pen guns and wallet holsters.

Advantages of a Gun Trust

  • Avoid the transfer tax. Again, weapons covered by the NFA require a $200 tax to be paid when they are transferred to a new owner. Placing firearms in a gun trust can sidestep this tax.
  • Avoid probate. Assets in a trust, including firearms, do not have to go through the probate process. This means a generally quicker and more private distribution of property to your heirs.
  • Shared possession and use of the gun. A properly drafted gun trust can allow your beneficiaries to share possession and use of the firearm(s) held in the gun trust. This can avoid criminal liability for sharing weapons in violation of federal law.
  • Designate a specialized trustee. Gun ownership is a serious responsibility that requires familiarity with the specific laws and regulations that apply to firearms. Establishing a gun trust means you can designate a trustee specifically to manage your firearms, and you can choose someone who has the requisite gun knowledge. In contrast, firearms that are not held in trust will simply become part of your estate, to be managed by your personal representative (executor), who may not be so familiar with gun laws—and may even accidentally violate the law.
  • Protecting future transfers and ownership. Gun laws are constantly changing and politically contentious. If future laws restrict the ownership or transfer of certain firearms, a gun trust may allow your future trustees or beneficiaries to sidestep those restrictions, depending on how the trust is drafted and how those future laws are written.

Set up your gun trust with an experienced attorney

Again, if you own firearms or want to purchase firearms, it’s important to give them special treatment and attention in your estate plan. Establishing a gun trust has significant benefits both during your life and after your passing. However, to set up a gun trust properly, you need an attorney who understands firearm laws and takes the time to understand your needs and priorities. That way, we can come up with a solution customized for you.

If you need help setting up or managing a gun trust, our attorneys are ready to assist. Give us a call or contact us online today to speak with an experienced Norfolk, VA gun trust lawyer.

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