Gun Trusts and Gun Law 2016

MCLE Credits: 6.5
Ethics Credits Included: 1.0

Video on Site: Wednesday, December 7 / Abingdon, Charlottesville, Norfolk, Richmond, Roanoke, Tysons Corner
  Thursday, December 15 / Alexandria
Registration: 8:00 a.m. (Richmond location: 8:30 a.m.)
Program: 8:30 a.m. - 4:10 p.m. (Richmond location: 9:00 a.m - 4:40 p.m.)
MCLE Credit: 6.5 (Ethics: 1.0)
Live-Interactive Credit: 0.0
Live on Site: October 17 in Fairfax


Why Attend?

To draft a gun trust that will accomplish your client’s goals, you will be taught the key components in this area:

  • Federal and State Firearms Law Overview
  • Gun Trust Planning
  • Drafting Gun Trusts
  • Ethical Issues in Firearms Planning

Transfers of every type of firearm present substantial legal issues. Well-drafted gun trusts offer safeguards to the possibility of inadvertent and accidental felonious behavior by gun owners themselves, and after death by their beneficiaries and their trustees. Key drafting elements and options of gun trust planning, including the new ATF regulation 41F, will be presented.

This seminar is designed to:

  • Teach attorneys the pitfalls and up-to-date legal requirements necessary to allow the use of personally owned firearms by non-owners, and the transport of any firearm across state boundaries. 
  • Frame the current state and federal law governing the valid sale or inter vivos gift transfers of any type of firearm. 
  • Instruct attorneys on the property safeguards, and means to make legally compliant testamentary transfer of firearms.
  • Help keep clients out of trouble

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*Please note that the Richmond video replay begins at 9:00 a.m., with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m.

8:00 Registration
8:30 Perspective

Why is there a need for “gun law” awareness by attorneys?  What is an “accidental felony” and is it a real issue?

Nearly 40% of U.S. households have one or more firearms such as shotguns, rifles, and handguns (Title I firearms).  Consequently, attorneys, often unknown to them, represent for estate planning and other purposes a large number of clients who own firearms.  A fewer, but significant number, own firearms or devices such as suppressors (silencers), which require special federal permission to purchase and transfer.  (NFA Title II firearms)

All firearm transfers have the potential of creating an “accidental felony.” This can occur in probate and settlement of estates as well as transactions between individuals.  What are the important legal issues at stake for clients?  What are the ethical issues for attorneys? 

8:40 Overview of U.S. Firearms Law

Coverage will include:

  • Evolution of U.S. firearms law
  • History, timeline and evolution of significant federal firearms law
  • Second Amendment and legislation
  • National Firearms Act
  • Summary of Title I and Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA)
  • Role of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in current federal regulatory issues including new ATF Rule 41 F, and possible “execution actions” by the President and the executive branch
9:30 Break
9:40 State Gun Law Concerns

Discussion of evolving, selected gun control statutes of various states and how these statutes affect the transfer and transport of specific types of firearms across state lines as well as current Virginia gun law.
10:10 Gun Trust Planning

Discussion of trust basics, and what constitutes a “gun trust”:  Why use a “gun trust”?  Key issues include definitions, how they may be redefined, and their application including “possession,” “transfer,” firearm,” and “responsible person.”  Discussion on the interplay between federal, state and local regulation of firearms:  What roles should individuals play in a gun trust?  What firearms can be owned, and where, how, and to whom can they be safely transferred? How are “prohibited persons” identified?  How are prohibited firearms identified?  What liability can a trustee of a gun trust have?  Can or should a beneficiary be allowed to possess a firearm outside the presence of a trustee?  There are many and sometimes subtle differences between what can be done in a conventional living trust and what can be done in a gun trust, especially if the gun trust owns Title II firearms.

Gun Trust Planning — Avoiding Landmines Under the Gun Control Act (GCA)

Transfers of commonly owned Title I firearms such as shotguns, rifles, and handguns have their own special set of issues when two or more states are involved.  This can involve something as simple as a gun owner changing residency from one state to another.
Issue — Interstate transfers: Setting up gun trusts in compliance with the NFA regulations does not insulate a client from criminal liability under the Title I GCA prohibitions, particularly transport into or receipt in one’s state of residence of a firearm obtained outside that state.  A transfer of a firearm to a person who does not reside in the same state where the transferor resides, except for the loan of a firearm for temporary use for lawful sporting purposes, is a problem under the GCA since Title I does not define “person” to include a trust.  Thus, beneficiaries or trustees of a trust who reside in different states cannot just transfer firearms back and forth.

Issue — Potential characterization of strawman sales: Even with a gun trust, those receiving firearms for or from a trust need to understand that Abramski v. United States, 134 S. Ct. 2259 (2014), set a low bar for what it means to engage in a straw sale.

11:10 Break
11:15 Drafting Gun Trusts

Gun owner needs vary widely.  Some may think they need only a “simple” trust to simplify the acquisition of a federally regulated firearm.  Four scenarios used by gun owners will be compared and contrasted: the do-it-yourself trust, the conventional living trust, the simple gun trust, and a mainstream gun trust.

Drafting tips on a number of important planning additions will be discussed such as a personal property memorandum, naming of temporary or perpetual lifetime beneficiaries, and attestations of the beneficiaries and trustees of their legal right to possess and use firearms. 
Pragmatic issues including liquidity issues, limiting trustee liability, dealing with significant collections, and possessing of guns in more than one state require complex planning options.  Can a gun trust be perpetual?  Can it acquire, possess, and transfer firearms in multiple states?  What advanced planning options are necessary?  Is charitable planning an option to consider?
12:15 Lunch Recess
1:00 Drafting Gun Trusts — Case Studies

Case Study One involves a gun owner who wants to procure a silencer.  Case Study Two is about a married gun owner with young children and a spouse who is not overly interested in firearms. Case Study Three is that of an active duty service member, who owns NFA firearms in two locations.  Case Study Four is that of a wealthy gun collector, who owns firearms in multiple states; some are titled in the name of a corporation for varmint control but may also sometimes be used for social purposes of shareholders.  A variety of issues and potential solutions will be discussed. 

2:00 Break
2:10 Disability and Estate Administration Issues

How does a fiduciary legally deal with firearms in case of grantor’s disability? What process must a trustee follow to make certain that a post-mortem “transfer” is lawful?  Is state law of firearms transfers clear on fiduciary authority?  How is a “contraband” firearm identified?  How should a grantor or trustee identify and deal with a prohibited person?  What are federal and potential state law requirements in transferring decedent firearms? What are the safeguards that can be put in place to protect the fiduciary?

Valuation and Charitable Gifts Options for Surplus Firearms

Some estate fiduciaries do not understand that many gun collections may have substantial value.  Often an executor turns all guns into local law enforcement for disposal without having a proper appraisal prepared, causing the estate to fail to realize the value of the gun collection, and thereby not fulfilling their fiduciary duties. 

Charitable options for disposal of firearms will be explored, including income and estate tax treatment for donations to 501(c)(3) entities. Creative solutions to be explored include how to preserve providential evidence for the special treatment of museum-quality firearms that are known or believed to be rare or historic, and how to convert unwanted firearms into benefits for both family and charity and others. This charitable gift discussion will include examples and illustrations of the financial and tax results creating intervivos charitable gift annuities, and intervivos and testamentary charitable remainder trusts.  

2:55 Ethical Issues in Firearms Planning and Transfer — Disposal of Contraband

Clients may inadvertently come into possession, often during an estate probate, of a firearm, such as a war trophy fully automatic weapon, that should have been, but never was, registered under the National Firearms Act.  This is a “contraband firearm” and is a very serious situation that involves both possible criminal repercussions for the holder of the firearm, and difficult ethical issues for legal counsel. This session will discuss ethical solutions to this challenge, and other commonplace ethical issues.
3:55 Review of Key Points; Questions and Answers
4:10 Adjourn



C. Dennis Brislawn, Jr., Oseran Hahn, P.S. and The Private Client Law Group / Bellevue, WA
William A. Conway, Conway & Pannell, PLLC / McLean
Stephen P. Halbrook, Ph.D., Attorney at Law / Fairfax
William J. Ryan, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives / Martinsburg, WV
Kent W. Smith, NRA Office of Advancement / Angel Fire, NM

Locations, Dates and Fees

VIDEO REGISTRATION FEES (Lunch not included).
(All registrants will receive access to a complete set of downloadable e-book seminar materials.)

$195* regular registration fee (without printed materials).
$225 regular registration plus printed materials.
$240 on-site registration (if space is available) (printed materials included).

*Available until 3 business days before the program.



Abingdon: Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, on the campus of Virginia Highlands Community College (I-81 exit 14), 1 Partnership Circle  (276) 619-4300 (Venue Website / Google Map)
Charlottesville: The Virginia CLE® Building, 105 Whitewood Road (800) 979-8253 (Venue Website / Google Map)
Norfolk: SpringHill Suites Norfolk—Virginia Beach, 6350 Newtown Road (757) 333-3100 (Venue Website / Google Map)
Richmond: UVA Richmond Regional Center, 2810 N. Parham Road, Suite 300, 3rd Floor (Parking available only in spots not marked “Visitor Parking”) (804) 662-7464 (Venue Website / Google Map) (Please note that the Richmond video replay begins at 9:00 a.m., with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m.)
Roanoke: Roanoke Higher Education Center, 108 North Jefferson Street (Parking validated for parking deck adjacent to center only) (540) 767-6161 (Venue Website / Google Map)
Tysons Corner: Courtyard Marriott, 1960-A Chain Bridge Road (entrance to hotel on Greensboro Drive; free parking in hotel garage) (703) 790-0207 (Venue Website / Google Map)


Alexandria: Courtyard Marriott Alexandria Old Town / Southwest, 2700 Eisenhower Avenue (703) 329-2323 (Venue Website / Google Map)

Click here if you wish to register three or more people from the same firm.

A special 15% discount and free shipping on Virginia CLE®–published books will be available for purchases made at the seminar site.

Lower Registration Fee and Greater Functionality with Downloadable E-Book Seminar Materials

ALL seminar registrants will receive access to a complete set of downloadable e-book seminar materials. E-book materials are searchable, easily accessible, and efficient to use.

When registering, please be sure to provide a legible, valid e-mail address to which Virginia CLE® can send a link to the e-book materials.

Registrants who elect a registration option that includes downloadable e-book seminar materials only and not the printed materials will receive, at the seminar, a short, printed seminar outline with space to take notes.

Printed Materials: You still have the option of receiving a complete set of printed materials for a higher registration fee. Registrants who choose this option will receive printed materials at the program.


To receive access to the downloadable e-book materials BEFORE the seminar AND register for the lower fee, your registration must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. THREE BUSINESS DAYS BEFORE the seminar.  A link to the downloadable e-book materials will be e-mailed to you two business days before the seminar.  Once you download the materials, you can review them and print the portions you want to bring with you to the seminar.

After 5:00 p.m. THREE BUSINESS DAYS BEFORE the seminar, only the registration options that include printed materials will be available.

Cancellation/transfer requests will be honored through 5:00 p.m. of the DAY BEFORE the seminar.  You will, however, be charged $90 for the materials if you cancel your registration for the seminar, or transfer registration to a different seminar, after the link to the materials has been e-mailed by Virginia CLE®.

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Private recording of this program is prohibited.

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