As a Michigan gun trust lawyer, I’ve noticed a dramatic increase in the number of calls we’re receiving asking about setting up a gun trust. It’s really not a surprise given the current state of the “gun control debate” after the horrible tragedy in Newtown, CT. It seems that the most common question I’m asked is, “why do I even need a gun trust?” Well, the short answer is that you don’t need a gun trust to own a firearm, whether regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA) or not. But, with very few exceptions, a Michigan gun trust is the best way for many Michigan residents to own their guns, especial NFA items (for example, suppressors / silencers).
Why is that? The reasons vary based on your specific circumstances. This previous blog post shares many of the reasons a Michigan gun trust is a great way to own, protect, and ultimately transfer a NFA regulated firearm or item in Michigan. What many Michigan firearms owners don’t realize is that a Michigan gun trust can be a MUCH better way of owning their non-NFA firearms . . . especially if you are a Michigan resident with a firearm “collection.” Generally speaking, we consider a “collection” to include total value of firearms of $10,000 or more.
Why would you do that when Michigan law already provides a way to transfer non-NFA regulated firearms if something happens to you? The key lies in the fact that a well-drafted Michigan gun trust is drafted with the purpose of acquiring, holding, and eventually distributing firearms, ammunition, and accessories. What does that mean for you? Well, let’s think about the current “gun control debate” going on nationally and in many states. As you probably know there is “gun control” legislation going through Congress right now. The goal of much of the proposed legislation is to ban a wide variety of semi-automatic firearms as well as implement “universal” background checks. And some of the legislators have made no secret of their wish to confiscate all firearms and accessories, and if they can’t do that, to at least prohibit the transfer of any “grandfathered” weapons and require any such weapons to be surrendered to the state at the current owner’s death. My hope is that none of these laws are passed, but even so, it gives you insight into what they are really thinking about controlling your right to “keep and bear arms.”
Although firearms laws and trust law is still developing, it can be a good idea to transfer non-regulated weapons into a trust prior to the enactment of any such legislation (whether the legislation comes now or sometime in the future). This may avoid a scenario in which your family is forced to surrender your prized collection after you are gone. Proper estate planning will help create and share your legacy with your family and loved ones. It’s no different with your firearms – a properly drafted gun trust can help you leave a legacy with your firearms and plan for their use for generations to come.
Call at (616) 965-2221 to start creating your gun trust today!
Michael Lichterman is an estate planning and gun trust attorney who helps families and firearm owners create a lasting legacy by planning for their Whole Family Wealth™. This goes beyond merely planning for finances – it’s about who your are and what’s important to you. He focuses on estate and asset protection planning for firearm owners (both NFA regulated and non-NFA regulated), doctors/physicians, nurses, lawyers, dentists, professionals with minor children, family owned businesses and pet planning. He takes the “counselor” part of attorney and counselor at law very seriously, and enjoys creating life long relationships with his clients – many of which have become great friends.