We get asked all the time if it is necessary to have an attorney create a Gun Trust document when they seem to be floating all over the internet that you can do it yourself. Let me ask a somewhat rhetorical question? Would you fix your own teeth? Unless you are a dentist, I would hope the answer is NO. Yet many people think they can do their own gun trusts or have someone who isn’t an attorney do it for them. Bad decision…
It’s pretty common for folks to think that writing a trust, will, or LLC online is no big deal. I mean, it’s just a document, right? Not exactly. It’s one thing to do a simple agreement that doesn’t have much implication if you miss some things or get a few things wrong. It’s a completely different thing to work on something that could lead to a felony conviction!
Here are just a couple of questions you might want to ask yourself before putting pen on paper and doing it yourself or without a gun law trained attorney.
- Will BATFE accept a somewhat questionable trust? Yes.
- Do they ever change their mind and go after somebody with an approved trust? Yes.
- Does ANY conventional living trust (free, online, from an attorney) work well for guns, especially NFA firearms? NO!
Remember these points as we talk this through:
- You are messing with gun law, both State and Federal. The stakes cannot get higher than this. It’s not just about confiscation of your prized NFA items if you are wrong…
- “Free” trusts you fill out at your local gun shop or that you download online are downright dangerous. They are merely forms…with NO PROTECTIVE LANGUAGE…
- Even a lawyer-written trust, if not designed with GUNS in mind, is NOT a safe solution. Guns are not like stock certificates…and are not treated the same either.
Let me just share one particular issue to give you a better idea of why we make such a big deal about this issue. I will share more of these stories in later posts to give you a broader perspective of the problem and how you can protect yourself going forward.
Neither the free trust or even an expert lawyer’s conventional living trust say anything helpful about YOUR GUNS and how they can be held, used, shared, loaned, sold, gifted, etc. Almost every “free” trust or DIY trust I have seen has been either sadly deficient or totally invalid from the start. GUNS ARE UNIQUE ASSETS…and create legal, not just physical, risk of loss to you, your family, and your friends.
The trust says “give my stuff to Billy Bob when I die”… but what does your successor Trustee do if you are disabled? Can just anybody “borrow” your stuff? (Hint: NO) If the Trustee sells something, does it matter to whom, i.e. is anybody with a checkbook or cash okay? (Hint: NO, NO, NO). What if Billy has a Domestic Violence issue on his record? That is a BIG NO! What if he is considered legally mentally deficient? Again, NO. How about a non-citizen? Depends. (Such people are or may be “prohibited persons” under Federal law or state law… so a transfer to them would potentially be a FELONY even if you did not know… did you ASK?)
I think you get the point…this is not the way to go. Guns are dangerous…and not from just being shot. They need to be cared for properly with the right legal documents from someone who understands the difference. Do yourself, and your family, a favor…don’t go cheap in this area…buy a cheaper sofa and spend the right amount of money to stay out of jail!!