Hunting season is upon us, and many people are eager to get out into the woods or the marsh so they can fill their freezers, and if they are lucky, have a few adventures they can brag about for years to come. Hunting is a way of life in Virginia that has been passed on from generation to generation, but times are changing.
People are not at all as dependent on hunting for food as they were even a couple of generations ago. Our cities continue to sprawl, limiting the amount of land that is available to hunters. And more Americans are supporting restrictive gun laws. All of these factors have many gun owners questioning whether their family will know what to do with their guns when they die.
Including your guns in your estate plan can help you put any concerns you have about what will happen to your guns to rest.
Include Your Guns In Your Will As A Specific Bequest
Like any valuable item, a gun can be given to a particular person named in your will. This is known as a specific bequest, and it is a simple way to make your wishes known and legally enforceable.
There are several downsides to this option though. Wills have to go through probate court before they can be put into action. This takes time, and the will becomes part of the public record. Your family and the person you are leaving your guns to may not want the public to know personal details like this.
Create A Gun Trust
In order to speed up the estate administration process and get more privacy, many people rely on trusts to meet their estate planning goals. Gun owners have recently started to use trusts as a way to pass on their guns discretely and legally.
Gun trusts are typically set up while the gun owner is still living. The gun owner establishes a trust with the help of an attorney, typically naming themselves and any other person they want to be able to legally possess and use the weapons in the trust as trustees. The owner then transfers the ownership of his or her guns and other weapons to the trust. The trustees can add more items to the trust, sell items from the trust, and craft rules dictating what will happen to the items in the trust at the time of the trustees’ death.
Although gun trusts first became popular as a way for people to hold, share, and pass down federally-restricted items such as silencers, machine guns, and sawed off shotguns, they are now mainstream. They are a tool gun owners can use to make sure their family and friends know what to do with a gun collection after the owner’s death, and can take action on the owner’s wishes quickly, and without accidentally violating any laws governing the ownership and transfer of weapons.
These trusts offer the peace of mind many gun owners are searching for.