As a gun owner in North Carolina, your firearm collection should be treated like any other valuable asset and placed in a Trust. A gun trust can be a crucial element of your estate plan, allowing you to transfer your firearms to someone else and appoint an individual to manage them.
Just like you should choose a responsible person to handle your firearms, choose a responsible lawyer to handle your gun trust. At Charlotte Estate Planning, gun trust attorney Ryan Stump can help you preserve your assets, draft your gun trust correctly, and plan for the seamless transfer of your firearms.
What is a Gun Trust?
A North Carolina gun trust is how you transfer the title of your firearms from your name into a separate legal holding, i.e. the trust. The gun trust facilitates the transfer of your firearms in the event that you die or become incapacitated. Essentially, it’s an estate plan for your weapons. Additionally, a gun trust provides a level of protection to the owner, and any heirs of the trust, when it comes to the heavy regulations that typically surround firearms that may be included in the trust.
You deserve the peace of mind of knowing that your firearm will end up in the hands of someone you respect and can rely on. As the creator or “Grantor” of a gun trust, you can appoint an individual (known as a “Trustee”) to manage these possessions while you are alive.
In addition, you should appoint an individual to obtain your firearms upon your death or incapacitation. This person is the “Beneficiary” of your gun trust.
National Firearms Act
A gun trust is particularly useful for firearms regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA). The NFA is federal legislation that regulates the manufacturing, transferring, and selling of certain guns. It does so by imposing taxes and requiring registration for certain weapons.
Weapons included in the NFA are:
- Machine guns
- Short-barreled shotguns
- Suppressors or silencers
A gun trust allows someone to own, share, and transfer these weapons and other firearms regulated by the NFA and legally bypass certain requirements. For example, when you apply to register an NFA item, you must submit fingerprints, a photograph, and a law enforcement certification. However, if you place these items in your gun trust, your trustee typically does not have to follow these requirements to possess your NFA-regulated weapons.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) requires various forms to transfer, register, and own firearms.
You must fill out ATF Form 4 (5320.4) when setting up your gun trust. This form is required before you can transfer an NFA firearm to another party or legal entity, such as a trust.
ATF Form 5320.23 is a document that every responsible person in your gun trust—such as your trustee(s)—must submit in order to make or transfer an NFA firearm. This form is also known as the “Responsible Person Questionnaire.”
ATF forms must be filled out accurately to avoid legal complications, which is one of the many reasons why having a North Carolina gun trust attorney can be crucial for your estate plan.
Reasons to Have a Gun Trust
You should consider having a gun trust as a firearm owner in North Carolina for many reasons. While a common reason is to secure the transfer of your firearms to someone trustworthy after you die or become incapacitated, other benefits of establishing a gun trust include:
Protect Your Identity
Gun trusts are private documents, unlike other firearm records. Therefore, when you set up a gun trust in North Carolina, you will have additional privacy from the federal government. Only the trust’s information will be available, rather than personal information.
For example, if law enforcement were to inquire about a firearm, and the firearm is held in a trust, the owner’s identity will not be disclosed to them. Only the trust’s information is provided. Similarly, when an NFA firearm is registered or transferred, the trust’s information will go onto the ATF’s National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR), rather than the personal information of any trustees or beneficiaries.
However, it is important to note that a gun trust does not entail complete anonymity. The ATF still requires information about a trust’s “responsible persons,” as part of the application to transfer an NFA firearm. The ATF will collect this information and may disclose it in certain circumstances.
Circumvent NFA Requirements
The responsible individual you nominate in your gun trust can legally possess the firearms you designate to them—without them needing to apply.
Upon your death, an NFA item is typically transferred to your heir. This process can involve loads of paperwork, time, and potential taxes. However, when your gun trust owns an NFA item, the item can remain in the trust, and the successor trustees can manage it. This is done without needing a new tax stamp, going through the transfer process, and other demanding requirements.
Your gun trust must be correctly set up and managed to ensure it’s legal and effective. It’s a good idea to consult with a lawyer focusing on North Carolina gun trusts if you’re considering creating one for your firearmsTop of FormBottom of Form.
How to Establish a Gun Trust in NC
Establishing a gun trust in North Carolina can be a complicated process. It’s best to seek the help and the sharp legal insight of an estate planning lawyer. Find an advocate who understands the nuances and the importance of building your gun trust.
Below are the steps you should follow in order to place your firearms in a valid NC gun trust:
- Consult an experienced Charlotte gun trust attorney
- Identify your trustee(s)
- Identify your beneficiary(ies)
- Draft the trust with a lawyer
- Sign the trust in front of a notary
- Transfer ownership of your firearms to the trust
- Complete ATF Form 4
- Modify the trust as needed
A dedicated attorney can assist with each step and ensure the sections, including the ATF form, are filled out correctly.
Contact an Experienced Gun Trust Attorney Today
Setting up a gun trust can be critical to protecting your firearms. However, the process can be difficult, requiring various steps and deep legal knowledge. A North Carolina gun trust attorney can help you draft your gun trust, incorporate it into your estate plan, and modify it on your terms. At Charlotte Estate Planning, we can ensure your NC gun trust meets all the necessary legal requirements so you can feel at ease.
Contact Charlotte Estate Planning at (704) 766-8836 to schedule a consultation with our experienced legal team today.