Gun trusts are becoming more popular and ubiquitous. But what on earth is a “gun trust” anyway? Gun trusts are special purpose entities that are designed to own machine guns, suppressors, and other firearms regulated under federal law. Yes, those weapons are legal for civilians to own, and owning them in a trust is the ideal way. If you can legally own a gun in Arizona, you can own a machine gun, suppressor, or other NFA firearm, such as artillery.
A gun trust has similar goals as a standard estate planning trust: to protect your family, ensure your assets are divided how you would like at your death, and to avoid probate. Despite these shared goals, a gun trust is very different from a standard estate planning trust and the two are not interchangeable. A standard estate planning revocable trust, which I will call an “estate trust” in this article, is designed to hold financial assets such as real estate or bank accounts. An estate trust should never be used to acquire or own NFA firearms. A gun trust is a very special estate planning tool designed to address the unique concerns, laws, and regulations associated with gun ownership, especially firearms that are regulated under the National Firearms Act (“NFA”). Estate trusts are simply not designed for that purpose.