What is a Gun Trust? How Does a Gun Trust Work?
A gun trust is a method for someone to hold and transfer a firearm without having to go through the probate process. This allows you to hold and transfer guns without having to go through court or federal licensing.
Gun trusts work just like any other trust. Specifically, a gun trust is a separate legal entity similar to a corporation, which exists independently of the person who created it. As such, a gun trust can be created and managed and continue to exist even after the person who created it—the original owner of the firearms—has passed away.
What are the Clear Benefits of Having a Gun Trust in California?
One of the primary benefits of having a gun trust in California is that it allows multiple owners to bear certain types of regulated firearms. Specifically, it allows multiple owners to bear types of firearms that are usually licensed to just to a single owner and can only be possessed by that particular owner. If a gun trust is the owner of the regulated firearm, then multiple people can legally dress and use that firearm.
Is a Gun Trust in California a Revocable Trust?
Gun trusts in California are revocable trusts, as long as the creator of the trust is alive. The creator of the trust may revoke the trust or make any changes to the trust that he or she wants to make during their lifetime. After the creator’s death, the trust becomes irrevocable. However, the successor trustees of the trust will still have some authority to name future trustees, and to continue to adjust those persons who are responsible to manage the firearms owned by the trust.
Should I Put all of my Guns in a Gun Trust?
In my opinion, yes, you should put all of your guns in a gun trust. It is not strictly necessary to do so: Some firearms are very simple to own and to transfer without a gun trust. However, if you are going to have a gun trust, there is no reason not to transfer all of your firearms to it.
Can I Change the Beneficiary of my Gun Trust at Any Time?
Yes, as long as you are the creator of the trust and you are still alive, you can change the beneficiaries or the trustees of the trust.
What is the Proper Way to Set up a Gun Trust in California?
If you want to set up a gun trust properly, you need to enlist the help of someone who understands this specific type of trust. Attorneys with gun trust drafting experience are the most qualified to help.
Moreover, gun trusts need to be signed and notarized by the creator of the trust, a notary public, and anyone else who will be named as a trustee. Remember, these trustees are the people whom the trust will allow to legally possess the firearms placed in the trust.
Then, of course, the trust is no good unless it actually becomes the owner of the firearm. So, you actually have to go through the process of transferring the ownership of your firearms to the trust.
What are Some Mistakes That are Made When Someone Inherits Guns in California?
Gun laws in California are very serious, and gun inheritance is therefore very serious. When mistakes are made in the process of someone inheriting guns, the results can range from minor inconveniences all the way through to felonies and federal charges. The more serious consequences usually occur if the guns are not treated appropriately, and/or if the guns are not correctly transferred.
One of the biggest and most common mistakes that we see with gun inheritance in California is when a person who owns guns simply leaves those guns to someone without making sure that their trustee has a right to possess guns. If their trustee is a person who is excluded or prohibited from owning firearms, then simply by taking over as trustee — whether they take physical possession of the firearms or not — they are guilty of a federal felony. So, we need to be sure if we are getting firearms that we are getting correct trustees who have the authority and are allowed to possess firearms.
The other common problem we see is trustees of estates simply handing guns to intended beneficiaries without going through any registration formalities or getting the proper transfer documentation in order. In the vast majority of cases, this causes serious problems. There are procedures that must be followed when transferring guns through inheritance. The penalties for not following those procedures are rather steep, and may include forfeiture of the firearm to the government for no compensation.