What is a gun trust?
First, let’s discuss what a “trust” is.
A trust is a legal entity you can create by following certain state laws – to the letter! Trusts are purely creatures of state law. Every state has its own laws regarding what makes a trust valid in that state. But, if you create a valid trust in Florida, that trust is considered valid in every other state and will be interpreted per Florida law.
So, in Florida, if you hand your friend Joe $10,000 and ask him to hold it for the benefit of your son, Ben, and to only give it to Ben when he turns 30 or has his first child – and Joe accepts the money and your instructions – you’ve just created a trust. You are the Trustmaker (sometimes called the Grantor or Settlor), Joe is the Trustee, and Ben is the Beneficiary.
You no longer “own” the $10,000 – Joe, as the Trustee of your Trust does. But he doesn’t control how that money will be used – you do through your instructions.
You told him to only give it to Ben under certain conditions, and, as long as you retained the right to change the trust, you can change those conditions whenever you want. If you and Joe have a falling-out, you can even dump him as the Trustee and ask your brother, Bob, to become the Trustee.
Sounds simple, right? But, of course, problems frequently arise with informal oral agreements, so you’d really want to have that agreement in writing! The writing, which legally documents the terms of your trust, is generally called…you guessed it: a Trust Agreement.
In our example, you transferred money to your Trustee and trust. But almost any property can be transferred to a trust – including guns and ammo.
A gun trust is a limited-purpose revocable trust – the only property you’d transfer to the Trustee of your trust would be firearms, ammunition, firearm-related accessories, and maybe some cash or a small amount of life insurance (for reasons I won’t go into here). Since it’s generally revocable, it can be easily modified or terminated (revoked) during your lifetime.
(If you’d like to learn more about how revocable living trusts can be a valuable tool in your estate plan, reserve a seat at an upcoming casual, fun, and informative workshop to learn more about estate planning, elder law, asset protection, probate, and Medicaid planning).