Many people in North Carolina own guns and use them for hunting, self-defense, or recreation (in controlled environments). But buying a gun often comes with a lot of rules, including who can and cannot legally use it. What’s more, your friends and family can get into trouble after you die if they possess or use a gun that’s registered to you.
One way to avoid many of the potential legal entanglements that come with owning a gun is to place your guns into an NFA Gun Trust. While many gun owners may not be familiar with gun trusts, the experienced trust lawyers at Mullen, Holland & Cooper have helped many gun owners in Gastonia and throughout North Carolina pass on their guns in a safe, legal manner. If you want to learn more about gun trusts and how they work, keep reading or contact our office to schedule a consultation.
What Is an NFA Gun Trust?
While states can set many of their own rules concerning gun ownership, there are certain weapons and accessories that are strictly regulated by federal law under the National Firearms Act, or NFA. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (commonly shortened to ATF), the gun and accessories that fall under the NFA include:
- Shotguns with a barrel or multiple barrels less than 18 inches long
- Weapons made from shotguns if the modified weapon is less than 26 inches long overall, or if the barrel or multiple barrels are less than 18 inches long
- Rifles with a barrel or barrels less than 16 inches long
- Weapons made from rifles is the modified weapon is less than 26 inches long overall, or if the barrel or multiple barrels are less than 16 inches long
- Machine guns
- Certain other “destructive devices”
To buy any of these guns or accessories, you have to meet certain conditions outlined in the NFA. These conditions include submitting a form to the ATF with your name and other information, having your fingerprints taken at a local police office, and having the chief local law enforcement officer in your community sign off on your purchase. You’ll also have to pay a $200 fee to the ATF.
That’s a lot of paperwork to navigate, and what’s more, only the registered owner of a weapon regulated under the NFA is allowed to use it unless the owner files the necessary transfer paperwork and pays the required fee. This means that when you die, your children or other heirs could face serious consequences just by having your guns in their home.
A gun trust allows you to bypass many of the bureaucratic hurdles involved with NFA weapons and keep your heirs out of legal trouble. Gun trusts work similarly to other types of trusts, in that your weapons are placed in the trust and can then be used by your designated beneficiaries. This is a perfectly legal way to pass on your guns while keeping your descendants out of trouble with the law.
What Are the Benefits?
There are many reasons why you might want an NFA Gun Trust, such as:
- Allowing your heirs to use your guns without fear of legal repercussions
- Keeping your guns out of the probate process and, therefore, out of the public eye (as probate proceedings are public records)
- Protecting your guns from being seized during bankruptcy proceedings
- Avoiding possible future restrictions on transferring weapons
How a Lawyer Could Help
If you’re thinking about establishing a gun trust, you need help from a lawyer who knows what gun trusts are and how they work.
Not all attorneys are familiar with gun trusts, but the skilled Gastonia trust attorneys at Mullen, Holland & Cooper can provide the services you need. We’ll help you set up the trust so that it complies with NFA regulations while still allowing your family and friends to use your guns without fear. We have extensive knowledge of state and federal gun laws, and we can help you pass on your weapons to future generations of your family. Contact our office for more information.