Gun trusts help South Carolina residents inherit firearms from loved ones privately, safely, and lawfully. Creating a gun trust also makes the process of obtaining certain types of restricted firearms easier. Like other types of trusts, gun trusts hold the title for the guns included in the beneficiary’s trust.
If you are a firearms owner in South Carolina, a gun trust could help you and your loved ones. Creating a gun trust can help you follow gun regulations and reduce your risk of handling certain types of restricted firearms. If you are interested in creating a South Carolina gun trust, please contact Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, to schedule your initial consultation.
Firearms Regulated By the National Firearms Act (NFA)
The National Firearms Act (NFA) regulates the ownership of certain firearms. Firearms that are governed by the NFA are often called Class 3 or Title II weapons. If you own a gun that is restricted or regulated by the NFA, understanding the restrictions outlined in the NFA is incredibly essential. Some of the firearms and accessories regulated by the NFA include the following:
- Short-barreled rifles
- Short-barreled shotguns
- Machine guns (fully automatic weapons)
Violations of the National Firearms Act
South Carolina gun owners violate the federal NFA if another person knowingly has the potential to control or access any of your NFA-restricted firearms. Any of the following situations could result in gun owners facing serious consequences:
- A relative stores your NFA guns for your while you’re deployed with the military
- A family member knows the location of your NFA-restricted firearms gun safe key
- You accidentally leave one of your NFA guns in your friend’s care after target practice
- You stay at a friend’s cabin for a few days and leave one of your NFA guns there
- You let one of your friends borrow your NFA guns
Penalties for Violating the National Firearms Act (NFA)
While the situations mentioned above are innocent, they are likely violations of the NFA. Violations of the NFA come with the following maximum penalties, including the following:
- Up to 10 years in jail
- Up to $250,000 in fines
- Confiscation of all of your NFA-restricted guns
What Is an NFA Gun Trust?
An NFA gun trust is essentially an estate planning tool. While the gun trust will not allow you to bypass South Carolina and federal gun laws, it will allow you some flexibility when it comes to acquiring NFA-restricted firearms. Gun trusts also make it easier for you to transfer your NFA-restricted firearms to your beneficiaries.
The structure of gun trusts is similar to other trusts. You will designate one or more trustees who will administer the trust on behalf of your beneficiaries. For example, you could designate yourself and your spouse as trustees, giving you both the right to use the guns held by the trust without having to request individual permission from your local Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO). When you create your trust, you decide what happens to the firearms owned by the trust after your death.
Using an NFA Gun Trust in South Carolina
Now that we’ve covered the potentially disastrous consequences for violating the NFA, we will outline how a gun trust can help you avoid these penalties. South Carolina laws prohibit the possession of military firearms, sawed-off shotguns, machine guns, and sawed-off rifles. An exception exists, however. South Carolina law allows residents to purchase these weapons as long as the purchase complies with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF).
A resident of South Carolina needs to obtain a Class 3 tax stamp to purchase one of these firearms. A CLEO must sign a document before the resident can purchase these weapons. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a trend in which many CLEO’s are not willing to sign requests.
South Carolina residents can legally purchase an NFA-restricted weapon through an NFA gun trust. In these situations, the gun trust is a legal entity that holds the title to the NFA-restricted firearms. Gun trusts are unique to different types of revocable trusts in South Carolina. At Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, our experienced estate planning lawyers know how to properly create your gun trust to protect your legal rights to the greatest extent possible.
The Benefits of Creating an NFA Gun Trust
When the current trustee in possession of the guns passes away, the other trustee will assume the rights of possession when the trust is set up accordingly. In this case, the trust agreement will need to state that the trust should continue after your death and that you’ve assigned the gun possession rights to one or more trustees.
As the creator, you have control over what will happen to the guns owned by the trust after your death. In many cases, the creators of gun trusts state that their beneficiary should take possession of the guns owned by the trust upon their death. This arrangement saves the surviving trustee time, money, and energy and allows him or her to seamlessly take legal possession of the guns owned by the NFA trust.
A well-written gun trust will allow the trustee to consider each gun and determine whether the beneficiary can take possession of that gun under the law. Trustees look to the guidance in the NFA trust agreement to legally and adequately pass the guns owned by the trust to the beneficiaries.
Beneficiaries of gun trusts are often extremely grateful that they do not have to go through probate to take possession of the guns owned by the trust. You will also be able to ensure that an experienced trustee manages your guns rather than your estate executor.
Contact Our Experienced Gun Trust Lawyers Today
If you are the owner of guns regulated by the NFA, creating a gun trust could significantly help you. Creating a gun trust can help you manage risks associated with owning NFA-regulated guns and seamlessly pass on your guns to your heirs. Contact the South Carolina gun trust attorneys at Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA today to schedule your initial consultation.