Legal Trusts

I’ve been told by a few friends that I should have firearms in a trust. Just want see what the community has for pro and cons on this. Should Tax Stamp items be in a trust as well?


I have kicked this idea around for a few years. In my state (VA) they just passed Universal Background checks so I am wondering if I transfer my firearms to a trust do they have to go through an FFL? In general I am given to understand that a trust to protect firearms from confiscation or liability SHOULD be in a trust. As I understand it if you get SWAT’d or Red Flagged the guns can be physically transferred to another trustee that doesn’t live with you. I am also given to understand that your spouse and children may not be the best candidates to name as a trustee no matter how much you love them as circumstances can occur unexpectedly.

One of the main points I learned about trusts is that if you are listing firearms DON’T put it on the trust that has to be filed. That would require you to go back to the lawyer and redraft your trust every time you bought or sold a gun (assuming you are putting all in the trust). The solution is an addendum which does not actually change the trust but "attaches to it. So that you can add / subtract /multiply or divide as you wish and make pen and ink changes to the addendum, it may also be called a “rider” but I’m not sure. Some states may not allow this. I still have way too many questions to pull the trigger and too many other things on my plate to investigate so I hope this thread takes off. @MikeBKY perhaps you could lend some KY legal input?




Thanks Craig, I am wondering some of those same questions. I like the idea of rider/addendum. I am in Michigan and not sure on them either. I really hope we get a lot of feedback on this topic…

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Can’t hurt to give them a call, usually the first call is free. Hope it helps. @Eric164 WELCOME.
I had to look it up CLEO-Chief Law Enforcement Officer.

Attorney Adam Zuwerink
West Michigan Law, P.C.

794 Pine Street, Suite 220
Muskegon, MI 49442

Hours: Monday through Friday, 8am to 5:30pm EST

109 E Main Avenue, #6
Zeeland, MI 49464

Hours: Monday through Friday, 8am to 5:30pm EST

Call or Email Us


UPDATE (January 15, 2016): The federal government issued a final rule today, to be effective in July, 2016, that modifies the below analysis. Trustees and responsible persons of a gun trust will now have to submit fingerprints and be subject to a background check when submitting an application to the ATF, but CLEO approval is no longer necessary for individuals or trusts. For more information about how the new regulations will impact gun trusts, we have an in depth analysis posted here.

Original Post…

Who will obtain possession of your firearms when you pass away? Muskegon Attorney Adam Zuwerink

If you live in Michigan and own firearms or suppressors required to be registered by the National Firearms Act (NFA), that question may not have a simple answer. If you own pistols in the State of Michigan and want to transfer your guns to friends or beneficiaries who are not legally allowed to possess them, the fate of your firearms may be in question.

This is where a Michigan Gun Trust, and the legal guidance from a Michigan Gun Trust attorney, can provide peace of mind that your firearms will be transferred legally.

There are two broad categories of guns where a Michigan Gun Trust can be beneficial: handguns required to be registered with the State of Michigan, and weapons registered with the federal government under Title II of the National Firearms Act.


The National Firearms Act (NFA) regulates the possession, use, and transfer of several types of weapons. These NFA weapons, also referred to as “Title II” weapons, include: machine guns, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, silencers, suppressors, and destructive devices.

The State of Michigan restricts the possession and use of NFA weapons, unless proper regulations are followed. Under the NFA, you have two ways of acquiring restricted weapons, either individually or through an entity. To obtain these items individually, you must submit fingerprints and a photograph, register with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), pay the $200 application fee/tax, and obtain the signature of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) of the county where you live. In many counties, the CLEO signature is very hard, if not impossible, to obtain.

This is where a Michigan NFA Trust comes into play, acting as a legal entity for buying NFA registered guns, thereby avoiding the requirement of obtaining the CLEO signature. While the NFA weapons could also be owned by a corporation or LLC, trusts do not require annual filing fees, public disclosure or a separate tax return.

Beyond avoiding the CLEO signature requirement, a Michigan NFA Trust can allow you to name multiple trustees, who are all allowed to legally possess the NFA weapon. And if one of the trustees becomes prohibited from possessing the weapon, the trust would not have to transfer that weapon. The possible penalties of possessing an illegal weapon include up to ten years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and confiscation of your weapon – all of which could be avoided through a multiple trustee Michigan NFA Gun Trust.


When a typical revocable living trust is set up in Michigan, a general assignment of all personal property to the trust is included with the package of documents. But relying on a general assignment could leave you facing unintended consequences when your firearms include registered pistols or NFA weapons. If the beneficiary of your trust is under the age of 18, a convicted felon, or a mentally incompetent, you are inadvertently creating a situation where a registered gun will be transferred to a person who is not legally allowed to own it. Working with a Michigan attorney that understands firearms laws can prevent such an occurrence and a Michigan Gun Trust will avoid many problems in the future.

If you plan to purchase, or already own, any weapons that are required to be registered with the BATFE or State of Michigan, I would be happy to speak with you about the best form of ownership to avoid current problems and plan for the future. There are a number of sites available for you to download a “fill in the blank” gun trust form, but you can rest assured that a Michigan Gun Trust prepared by my firm is tailored to your individual situation will best protect your investment.

For any questions, contact us today.


What I can say about gun trusts in Kentucky is that they are generally only advised when NFA weapons are involved. If Biden becomes president, these may become much more important if they drop so called “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines” under NFA control.

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@BRUCE26 Thank you for the explanation on gun trusts in Michigan. I really appreciate it. Do you have any offices on the East side of the state? I am in Macomb, MI.

Thank you

These seem to be the closest to you. Good luck. :+1:

Willis Law


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ouch, none of those are close to the east side