NFA Gun Trust Attorney in Troy, Michigan
The National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934, followed by a revision of the Act in 1968 called Title II of the Gun Control Act, made it illegal to possess certain weapons and paraphernalia without registering them. After registration, only the owner of the weapon would be allowed to possess or use it.
These weapons are referred to as NFA or Title II firearms, and they include machine guns, silencers (also called suppressors), short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, grenades, and more. The twin laws present a significant difficulty when the owner of one of these weapons dies and wants to pass them on to heirs. If the instrument ends up without proper re-registration in another’s hands, even an heir, a felony charge may result.
Fortunately, there is a perfectly legal way to transfer Title II firearms to your heirs by setting up what is called an NFA or Title II Gun Trust. By placing the weapon or weapons in a gun trust, ownership transfers to the trust, avoiding the need for court involvement during the transfer after your death.
The same holds true for what are called Title I weapons, which are your everyday firearms. You can transfer them as well and ward off any legal difficulties involved in the change of ownership.
If you are a gun owner or collector in or around Troy, Michigan, contact me at Law Offices of Barton Morris. I am a business lawyer and Second Amendment attorney who can help you set up a gun trust. I’ll work with you so that your heirs and beneficiaries can avoid any legal hassles, perhaps even a criminal charge, when you bequeath your weapons. I serve clients throughout Macomb and Oakland counties, and anywhere in Michigan.
What Is an NFA Gun Trust?
A gun trust is either a revocable or irrevocable trust. Most people choose the revocable form since it can be amended at any time. A gun trust allows you to transfer your Title II and Title I weapons into the trust. In the trust document, you can name a trustee who will oversee the weapons and distribute them to your named beneficiaries when you pass on.
If you don’t put Title II weapons in a gun trust, whomever you designate to receive them will have to undergo the tedious process of re-registering them with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF or ATF). If they try to possess or use them before the registration takes effect, they could be in violation of the law. Even Title I weapons can pose legal challenges if you do not set up a trust.
For example, if you own a Glock-19 pistol and do not have a gun trust when you die, a judge will need to authorize its transfer to your spouse or your child. However, if your spouse is a felon or your child is a minor, they cannot take possession of the pistol.
In these cases, the court can appoint a person to “administer” the pistol until the spouse clears their registration record or the child becomes eligible to take possession of the pistol. That administrator gets paid from your estate. Since the court is not in the business of safekeeping firearms, it would likely sell the pistol and distribute the money to the spouse or child.
Even if you do bequeath your weapons to others in your last will and testament, everything will have to go through probate court proceedings. Probate proceedings become a public record, and anybody can view which weapons you transferred. Keep in mind that the probate court may step in and take charge of the weapons if the circumstances warrant it.
Benefits of a Gun Trust vs. a Living Trust
A living trust is similar to a gun trust, but it is more like a will, through which you designate who gets your assets. The beauty of a living trust is that it avoids probate proceedings. However, if you place Title II or other weapons in the living trust, the same problems of transferring and re-registering the firearms still looms. Note, however, that you should still have a living trust, or at least a will, to make sure your other assets pass to the ones you designate.
If you place your weapons in a gun trust, you can designate more than one person to use the firearms. Since the weapons by law belong to the trust, your beneficiaries can avoid the AFT re-registration process, but they may still have to go through a background check and identification process.
NFA Trust Attorney in Troy, Michigan
You can never anticipate what new laws will be coming down the pike when it comes to gun possession and gun rights, so setting up an NFA Trust is a smart move whether you own Title II weapons, Title I weapons, or a combination. A gun trust or NFA Trust is an estate planning document that ensures that your firearms are inherited according to your wishes. Whether you own one hunting rifle or a safe full of silenced automatic pistols, a gun trust is necessary to ensure that your firearms are not held up in court. Contact me at my office in Troy to start the process.