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Charleston Gun Trust Attorney

Many individuals and families in South Carolina own firearms that are considered estate assets. Because the transfer of certain firearms and accessories is restricted by federal and state law and subject to strict legal requirements, administering an estate that owns weapons presents unique challenges. Whether you own weapons for sport, self-defense or investment purposes, creating a gun trust will ensure that your gun collection is transferred in compliance with applicable firearms laws.

Wiles Law Firm, LLC, a premier estate planning practice located in Mount Pleasant, routinely prepares gun trusts for clients throughout Charleston, South Carolina. Well-versed in the applicable provisions of the National Firearms Act, we can help to create a properly structured gun trust that provides for the proper transfer, use and possession of firearms. When you become our client, you will have confidence knowing that your gun collection and your loved ones will be protected.

What is a gun trust?

A gun trust is a type of revocable living trust that allows you to purchase, receive, transfer and hold guns that are subject to certain federal laws and regulations. As the trustee and beneficiary of the trust, you can retain ownership of your gun collection during your lifetime. The trust designates a successor trustee and beneficiaries of the trust, and also provides instructions for the transfer of your weapons after your death.

In particular, a gun trust is designed to hold weapons that are restricted under Title II of the National Firearms Act, including:

  • Short-barreled (“sawed off”) shotguns
  • Short barrel rifles
  • Automatic weapons
  • Destructive devices (e.g. bombs, grenades, rockets, mines or other similar devices)
  • Any other weapon or “AOW” (any weapon or device capable of being concealed on a person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive)

Such weapons, commonly referred to as NFA or Title II firearms, can only be possessed or used by the registered owner; transferring Title II firearms requires approval by a local Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) as well as paying a $200 federal tax.

What are the benefits of a gun trust?

When Title II firearms are held in a properly designed gun trust, however, transfers do not require CLEO approval or payment of the federal tax. Instead, the transfer application must be submitted directly to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) for its approval. It is important to note that the ATF rules regarding the transfer of Title II weapons were revised in 2016.

Under the current regulatory scheme, the CLEO must be notified of the intended transfer, and “responsible persons” for a gun trust -- individuals authorized to manage the trust and transfer the weapons (e.g. grantors, trustees, successor trustees), must undergo a criminal background check.

Finally, a gun trust is different than a typical living trust that terminates once the assets have been distributed to the beneficiaries. A South Carolina gun trust can be set up to continue after your death under the control of multiple named trustees and beneficiaries over generations. Therefore, it is critically important that the trust document contains guidance on the proper transfer, possession and use of the weapons so that trustees and beneficiaries do not violate applicable firearms laws.

Other benefits of a gun trust include:

  • Probate avoidance -- guns are held by an NFA Trust are not probated upon your death
  • Asset Protection -- guns held is a trust are protected from creditors' claims, divorce settlements, lawsuits, and bankruptcy
  • Medicaid Planning -- placing the guns in a trust means that the weapons will not be counted as assets for purposes of Medicaid eligibility
  • Incapacity planning -- a gun trust will provide instructions for the proper handling of your Title II firearms in the event you become incapacitated due to illness or injury

In sum, a properly structured South Carolina gun trust will ensure that your gun collection is handled responsibly. You can set the conditions for transferring NFA weapons to your beneficiaries to ensure compliance with federal laws -- violations can result in substantial fines and imprisonment. In addition, you can also provide instructions for the proper care of your weapons so that their value is preserved. Finally, creating a gun trust today will protect your weapons from future gun control legislation banning your weapons.

Contact Our Charleston, South Carolina Gun Trust Attorney Today

When you consult Wiles Law Firm, our gun trust attorneys will take the time to explain your rights as a gun owner under state and federal law. We are knowledgeable in the federal laws governing Title II weapons transfers and the rules promulgated by the ATF. Our legal team can help to create a gun trust that will expedite the transfer to your weapons and prevent potential felony violations of the National Firearms Act. Beware of gun dealers offering boilerplate trust forms that fail to provide proper guidance on the possession, use, and transfer of NFA weapons. Contact the Wiles Law Firm today to learn how to protect your weapons collection for future generations.


Wiles Law Firm, LLC helps clients with their estate planning needs in Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding areas such as West Ashley, Summerville, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and John's Island.

Information on this website is not legal advice. Further, viewing of the enclosed information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Wiles Law Firm, LLC. Matters will be handled by attorneys who primarily practice out of our office in Charleston County located at 852 Lowcountry Blvd., Ste. 101, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464. M. Emerson Wiles, III is the attorney responsible for this advertisement.

Any result Wiles Law Firm, LLC may achieve on behalf of one client in one particular matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients. Please contact a South Carolina estate planning attorney or one of our attorneys with Wiles Law Firm, LLC for a consultation regarding your unique estate plan.



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852 Lowcountry Blvd., Suite 101, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
| Phone: 843-718-0232

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