Gun Trust Law: Potential Pitfalls of Estate Planning for Firearms
If you own firearms, may inherit firearms from your family, or will be Executor or Trustee for your parent’s estate, it is important to understand the legal responsibilities and risks.
A Gun Trust Lawyer in our firm can assist with planning to protect against the issues listed in this article. Failure to follow the proper procedures can result in significant fines and even prison for an Executor or Trustee of an Estate.
How can an Executor or Trustee violate the law?
There are certain individuals that cannot receive a firearm. Some of these are obvious restrictions such as individuals who have been committed to a mental institution or is a fugitive from justice.
There are other restrictions which may be less intuitive such as anyone who has been dishonorably discharged from the military or was convicted of a crime punishable by a term exceeding one year (regardless of whether any time was actually served). (*See list below).
In addition, there are State level restrictions which can further restrict ownership. For example, Ohio allows a person over 18 but under 21 to own certain types of firearms; but not handguns. If a beneficiary is outside of Ohio, there would be restrictions in the recipient’s home state and restrictions on certain firearms being transported across state lines.
What are the options for protecting your family?
If you own firearms, it is important to discuss the options for transferring those firearms with your Estate Planning attorney. There are also benefits to creating a Gun Trust which allows for the lawful transfer of firearms governed by the National Firearms Act “NFA” without the approval of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer.
What are the options for protecting yourself?
If your parents own firearms, and you are going to be the Executor or Trustee of their Estate, you should have a conversation with them to ensure they have accounted for the potential legal risks. Without a proper plan in place, the Trust or Will could instruct you to take action which may not be legal.
* An illustrative list of Individuals who cannot own firearms in Ohio:
- Is under indictment or information in any court for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
- Has been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
- Is a fugitive from justice;
- Is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance;
- Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution;
- Is an illegal alien;
- Has been discharged from the military under dishonorable conditions;
- Has renounced his or her United States citizenship;
- Is subject to a court order restraining the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of the intimate partner;
- Has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence;
- Is under the age of 18;
- Is under the age of 21 (handgun);
- Is under indictment for or has been convicted of any felony offense of violence or has been adjudicated a delinquent child for the commission of an offense that, if committed by an adult, would have been a felony offense of violence;
- Is under indictment for or has been convicted of any felony offense involving the illegal possession, use, sale, administration, distribution, or trafficking in any drug of abuse or has been adjudicated a delinquent child for the commission of an offense that, if committed by an adult, would have been a felony offense involving the illegal possession, use, sale, administration, distribution, or trafficking in any drug of abuse;
- Is drug dependent, in danger of drug dependence, or a chronic alcoholic.