Create a Gun Trust
By Eileen M.S. Nims, Esq.
You have made sure you possess all the permits and registration documents needed to be the legal owner of your gun collection. But the laws, such as the recent Red Flag law, continue to narrow the field of gun ownership for Molokai residents who have firearms. These laws and restrictions get worse when it comes to leaving your guns to your children, grandchildren, or any other person you want your gun collection to go to, when you pass or become incapacitated.
Do not use a will to transfer of gun ownership. To secure a safe transfer, you need create a Gun Trust in which you place all of your firearms and firearm related assets. You will be both the creator and the Trustee of this trust as long as you have the capacity to own the firearms within it. You will have the powers to use, sell, gift, buy all the firearms held in the trust. The trust also says: Who the guns will go to, when the guns will be distributed, and under what conditions. How is this different from a will?
A trust is like a safe. Safety for beneficiaries. A trust is private – only you, and later on, the successor trustee, knows what is in the trust. A will, on the other hand, goes through a public court process called probate. Even if your will does not include an itemized listing of your weapons, the executor must file a listing of all the assets in the estate. This means a list of all your firearms and who now possesses these is public record. Easy pickings for those on the prowl.
A trust holds the assets — as long as you are permitted to do so, you have full access to the content of the trust. When you are no longer eligible (restrictive laws, incapacity) the trust continues to own the firearms in it under the successor trustee. This means the firearms cannot be confiscated or go through a forced sale when you lose your permit for any reason (think incapacity due to old age or a TRO by a vindictive ex.)
A trust automatically transfers, upon death or incapacity, and all the contents in the trust will transfer immediately to the next trustee. You have selected this trustee and have left instructions to this trustee how the contents are going to be used or distributed. This prevents your beneficiaries from unknowingly breaking the law.
Save on probate and litigation cost. A trust is cheaper – the cost of running your gun collection through Probate Court is much higher than for creating a gun trust. The legal transfer of your firearms in court takes between one and three years and accrues storage fees and hefty attorney bills in addition to the court fees. The costs run even higher if your will is contested. A trust is a safeguard against these unnecessary costs and time delays.
If you want guidance with the formulation of terms and receive individualized legal advice with regards to gun trusts, please feel free to contact Eileen M.S. Nims, Esq. at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (808) 664-1834.