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In the opening line of The White Album’s eighth track, John Lennon sings, “She’s not a girl who misses much.”

Of course, in my humble experience, the vast majority of women fall under this category.  While men typically fail to notice things like their significant other’s getting a new haircut, donning a new dress, or even speaking an entirely new language, women are keen on noticing even the most subtle changes—like several thousand dollars missing from a joint bank account and the mysterious appearance of a motor boat in the driveway.

Wife: “Honey, there’s a boat with ‘The Blown Nest Egg’ written on its side blocking the garage.  Is there anything you want to tell me?”
Husband: “Busted.”

Of course, the best estate planning attorneys are the ones who—just like your attentive spouse—miss little to nothing when it comes to details.

Unfortunately, there’s one area where the lion’s share of attorneys tend to falter in their knowledge:

Firearms.

While many Americans own guns for recreation, sport, and protection, many estate planning attorneys fails to take specifically applicable federal regulations into account when drafting trust or will provisions.

This is never truer than when dealing with Class 3 items.

Class 3 items include short-barrel shotguns, short-barrel rifles, suppressors/silencers, automatic weapons, explosives, and AOWs (“All Other Weapons,” which includes things like wallet guns and cane guns).

Due to the nature of these items, anyone purchasing a Class 3 item must jump through numerous hoops, including getting his or her photograph taken, being fingerprinted, and getting the signature of the local CLEO (Chief Law Enforcement Officer).  This can be time-consuming, and getting the CLEO’s signature can often be difficult for political reasons.  (What happens if the CLEO signs off on your purchase and you ultimately commit a crime with said Class 3 item?)  Furthermore, even if you get the CLEO’s signature, you may be subject to heightened scrutiny since he or she is now aware that you have purchased such an item.

However, let’s say that you set up what’s been termed a “gun trust,” and the gun trust—not you—purchases the Class 3 item.

Due to the nature of gun trusts, there will be no fingerprinting (trusts don’t have fingerprints), no photographs (trusts don’t have faces), and no CLEO signature (trusts aren’t people with backgrounds).

And beyond helping you save time and maintain your privacy, there’s another significant benefit to setting up a gun trust:

The prevention of “accidental felonies.”

Let’s say that you’re out in the woods shooting a gun with a silencer on it with a friend.  If for any reason you walk away—even to make a cell phone call—you have effectively transferred possession to a person who has no legal right to possess said Class 3 item.  And let’s further say a law enforcement officer walks up on your friend in your absence.

The penalty for your simple act?

Up to 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

A similar situation occurs if your Class 3 item is left in a location where a non-owner has access—for example, leaving your short-barrel shotgun in a closet in an apartment you share with a friend.

Finally, perhaps the scariest situation of all is leaving your Class 3 item to a loved one.  Regardless of whether you decide to use a will or a trust as your estate planning tool—or even if you have no plan at all—there is a significant likelihood that neither your loved one nor your estate planning attorney will recognize the harsh federal regulations placed on transferring such items.

The result?

Your loved one sees the Class 3 item solely as an heirloom—failing to take into account its specific transfer requirements.  Unfortunately, what was meant to be an act of generosity could result in someone you care about being charged with a felony.

By utilizing beneficiary provisions and leaving specific instructions to trustees, gun trusts have ways around these severe consequences.

So remember that, while happiness may be a warm gun, security is most certainly a warm gun trust.

To learn more about gun trusts, contact Drew Rogers at 501-221-7776 or email him at drogers@ilpplus.com.