Who Should Be a Trustee?

I am often asked ‘who should be a Trustee of my trust?’ The obvious answer, whomever you wish, does not provide much guidance to the would be NFA firearm purchaser.

The reality is that not much guidance is needed. I strongly encourage that all adults living in the household with the settlor, regardless of whether or not they will ever possess the item, be listed as Trustees. This prevents any potential constructive possession arguments and allows the settlor to share keys and safe access with those he lives with. Normally this consists of a spouse and possibly adult children or parents.

If the settlor lives alone, or only with minors, then I would suggest listing a close relative as a Trustee. Normally this duty should fall to the person who will take care of your estate if something happens to you. In these instances parents or siblings are likely to be first choice, but it can be anyone responsible and of age.

If the trust is established with minor beneficiaries, I suggest adding the potential guardians as either Trustees or Successor Trustees. These are the people who would take care of the children and would have to manage the property for the children until they reach majority. It should go without saying that a minor shouldn’t have free rein to a machine gun, but as someone who grew up with firearms I understand when a client doesn’t have that initial thought about a suppressor.

The last group of people one might wish to add as Trustees are close friends that you would trust to borrow your firearms. Many times this includes siblings and adult children already mentioned above, but some of us are fortunate enough to having a hunting or shooting friend whom we would let borrow anything. Unless that friend is listed as a Trustee, they cannot possess, and therefore cannot borrow, a NFA registered firearm. So, if you have any thoughts of letting someone access or borrow your firearm, list them as a Trustee. (It is worth remembering, that just because someone is a Trustee does not mean you have to let them borrow the firearm.)

In summary, anyone who may access, possess, or borrow the firearm without you or another Trustee present should be listed as a Trustee. It is as simple as that. If you still have questions and are in South Carolina, give me a call, and I will be happy to discuss with you.