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Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC

325 Eighth Street

Huntington, WV 25701-2225

Phone (304) 523-2100

Toll Free (866) 617-4736

By Anna Melissa Price Of Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC on 12/30/2019
Gun Trust FAQs: Answered by an Experienced WV Gun Trust Lawyer

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution grants us the right to bear arms. It states as follows: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." A WV gun trust lawyer can help you exercise this right for yourself and your heirs.

The State of West Virginia (WV) also provides protection for gun rights in its Constitution. Its provisions are clear: "A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, and for lawful hunting and recreational use."

Constitutional provisions aside, there are affirmative steps you can take to protect your rights and those of your family. A WV gun trust attorney can help you make sure you have all the paperwork in place, and meet all the requirements necessary, to pass on any weapons you own to your heirs.

An Introduction to NFA Gun Trusts

The National Firearms Act (NFA) regulates some specific types of firearms, such as short-barreled shotguns, modified shotguns or rifles, machine guns, and silencers. The NFA regulations include firearm training, background checks, and transfer taxes on these types of firearms. It is sometimes difficult for a person to meet all NFA requirements to qualify to own or possess NFA firearms in WV or elsewhere.

Firearms and WV Culture

NFA firearms are a critical aspect of culture here in the Mountain State, including hunting and shooting. Many people enjoy hunting the rich lands of West Virginia. Whether you're hunting white-tailed deer in Cabell County, wild boar in Logan County, or black bears in Boone County, passing on the joy of hunting to your loved ones is a legacy.

Practicing sport shooting at one of the many public shooting ranges of WV is also something to share with your family and friends. Ease any concerns you may have around sharing your hunting or shooting hobbies, your NFA firearms, or passing your beloved weapons down to your heirs by working with a WV gun trust lawyer to get a legal gun trust in place.

What Gun Trust FAQs Do You Have for a WV Gun Trust Lawyer?

Working with a gun trust lawyer makes it easier to obtain ownership of NFA firearms in compliance with the NFA handbook regulations and to share those firearms among family members. What's more, an attorney with NFA gun trust experience and knowledge can help ensure a smooth transfer of NFA firearms after death.

Following are answers to common gun trust FAQs you may have:

  • What is an NFA gun trust?
  • How does a gun trust work?
  • Why have a gun trust?
  • Who needs a gun trust?
  • What will your WV gun trust lawyer need to set up your NFA gun trust?
  • What are the benefits of hiring a knowledgeable WV gun trust lawyer?

Read on to learn answers to these critical questions about NFA gun trusts.

What Is an NFA Gun Trust?

A gun trust is both a smart way to own NFA weapons and an estate planning document. An NFA trust (also known as a gun trust, Title II trust, ATF trust, or Class 3 trust) is a legal trust that is used in the United States to register and own NFA firearms. A gun trust provides NFA firearm owners with a way to register their firearms and appoint trustees who are designated to be able to use or access the weapons.

A gun trust also provides a legal way to pass on an NFA firearm to the heirs of the original owner. You can work with a WV gun trust lawyer to make sure that your gun trust includes all requirements necessary to transfer your NFA firearms legally upon your death.

How Does a Gun Trust Work?

A gun trust works by ensuring that you and your family meet all requirements of the law relating to NFA weapons, both with regard to weapon use and inheritance.

Grant Access to NFA Firearms

You may be aware owning NFA firearms requires specific regulations to be met. Do you know that there are also regulations for anyone handling these guns or even having access to them?

By law, an NFA firearm cannot be accessible to individuals with no legal authority to own or possess it. If you keep such a weapon in your home with others living there who cannot legally own the weapon, you must store the firearm in a place where these people cannot access it.

However, an NFA gun trust can be written to include several trustees, including family members who may need or want access to the firearm. When paired with proper clearance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), a gun trust can ensure your loved ones are not unknowingly committing a felony. The trustees can have access to the NFA firearms listed in the gun trust.

Teaching your children how to use your guns to hunt or shoot recreationally is a special bonding activity and opportunity for your children to learn proper handling and respect for firearms. By putting an NFA gun trust in place as soon as possible, you can share the joy of shooting and hunting with your loved ones even before you pass your guns on to them.

It is a good idea to have an NFA gun trust in place as soon as you acquire an NFA weapon. Your WV gun trust lawyer can show you how to use a gun trust so you can use your NFA firearms and enjoy hobbies-such as hunting and shooting-with your family while you are alive.

Pass Your NFA Firearms to Your Heirs

When you execute a properly drafted NFA gun trust, you are using that document to declare your trustees, or heirs, who will inherit your firearms after you die. When drafting that trust, the trustees complete necessary NFA requirements to be sure that they can legally inherit those firearms when the time comes.

Why Have a Gun Trust?

Trust documents are an essential part of a complete estate plan. They ensure that your property is distributed in accordance with your wishes. There are several benefits to executing a proper NFA gun trust as part of your estate plan. Here are just a few:

  • Meet NFA ownership regulations;
  • Avoid probate;
  • Meet requirements to transfer NFA firearms to your heirs; and
  • Decrease taxes.

Read more about the reasons many people have NFA gun trusts below.

Meet NFA Regulations

There are a number of criteria that an individual must meet to own an NFA firearm whether they live in WV or elsewhere. A gun trust can help ensure that those criteria are well-organized and clearly documented. In fact, when a gun trust is used, some of the requirements that usually apply to the ownership of some types of firearms do not apply at all. A WV gun trust attorney can help you to get organized and meet these requirements and to document them with a legal gun trust.

Avoid Probate

Any owner of an NFA firearm should have a gun trust in place to ensure legal ownership and protect the heirs of the weapon. If there is no gun trust in place when the original owner of an NFA firearm dies, that firearm will go through the probate process.

The West Virginia Code provides that property that enters into probate is managed by the personal representative of the estate. The personal representative is then responsible for deciding who will inherit any NFA firearms. The representative may also decide to sell the firearms and add the proceeds to the estate for distribution.

Without a legal gun trust in place, it is entirely up to the person administering your estate to decide these important questions. And needless to say, your representative may or may not know your wishes or may not value your weapons as you do.

When you work with an experienced lawyer on a gun trust, all of the decisions are in your hands. Designating your trustees as the heirs in a gun trust will ensure that your final wishes are respected and honored.

Meet Requirements for Heirs' Ownership of NFA Firearms

Regardless of whether you have an NFA gun trust in place, the owner and any heir must meet the NFA regulations. A WV gun trust lawyer can help your heirs avoid the scrutiny of the probate process by naming them as trustees of your gun trust and ensuring that they meet the requirements for NFA firearms ownership.

There are online gun trusts that you can find and fill in the blanks. However, a fill-in-the-blank gun trust may not meet the legal regulations required for your heirs to inherit your firearms, and no one would know that your trust was invalid until after you passed away.

Trustees of an NFA gun trust do not automatically inherit your NFA firearms without meeting regulations set by the NFA to own and use these types of weapons. A WV gun trust lawyer can work with you to be certain your heirs meet these requirements and avoid any uncertainty that may come from an online, DIY gun trust.

Decrease Taxes

The NFA imposes certain transfer taxes on NFA firearms. These taxes can often be circumnavigated through the terms of a properly drafted gun trust. It may not be possible to avoid transfer taxes completely. However, if there is a tax on the transfer of any NFA firearms, the trust can help to decrease the overall tax burden.

Who Needs a Gun Trust?

Do you own a gun? If the answer is "Yes," then you need a trust in some form.

Your guns may not be regulated by the NFA, but that does not mean you don't need a trust to reap some of these same benefits. If your firearms are not regulated by the NFA, you may want to consider including them in your revocable trust as property you would like to pass to specific heirs. Your WV gun trust lawyer can help you to determine how to set up your estate plan to protect your firearms and ensure they are transferred to your heirs according to your wishes.

What Does Your WV Gun Trust Lawyer Need for an NFA Gun Trust?

A gun trust attorney will be able to let you know what documents and information are needed to create a gun trust. A short list includes these items:

  •  A list of firearms to be included in the gun trust;
  • A list of people to be named trustees, or heirs, of the firearms; and
  • The appropriate NFA firearms transfer documentation.

For a complete list of what is needed for an NFA gun trust, it is best to consult an experienced gun trust attorney who can help evaluate how the law applies to your circumstances and goals. Once your gun trust lawyer knows your goals with the handling of your NFA firearms-while you are alive and after your death-the documents needed can be determined and you can work together to get it all in order.

What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Knowledgeable WV Gun Trust Lawyer?

Take the time now to get an NFA gun trust set up properly. Doing so will give you the opportunity to share the joy of hunting and sport shooting with your loved ones. It will also provide a smooth avenue for you to pass your NFA firearms to heirs who will appreciate owning and using your weapons after you die. This is particularly important if you own weapons of sentimental value, such as those that have been passed down in your family.

The NFA creates some challenges to owning certain types of firearms, as well as to the transfer of those firearms upon death. It is important to make sure that ownership of NFA firearms meets all legal requirements. Having an NFA gun trust in place allows your trustees to use the firearms legally.

A WV gun trust lawyer can make sure you have the proper documentation in place so you do not have to worry about your ownership or eventual transfer of an NFA firearm. If you have questions not answered in these gun trust FAQs, contact an experienced WV gun trust lawyer to get the answers you need. To learn more about gun trusts in WV, Kentucky (KY), or Ohio (OH), contact me, Anna M. Price. You may reach me directly by calling (866) 617-4736 or by completing our firm's Contact form.