Does California Allow Gun Trusts?

by | Feb 13, 2023 | trusts

California Allow Gun Trusts

When we pass away, we want to ensure that our belongings get transferred to the right people. However, when it comes to gun ownership in California, there are strict rules and regulations. Securing a gun trust could ensure that you follow applicable laws when transferring ownership of your firearms. 

What is a Gun Trust? 

A gun trust is a type of trust that is specifically designed for individuals who own firearms. The main purpose of a gun trust is to provide a legal mechanism for the ownership, possession, and transfer of firearms in a manner that complies with federal and state laws.


A gun trust typically outlines the terms and conditions under which firearms can be owned, used, and transferred. It may also specify who has the right to possess or use the firearms and under what circumstances. The trust can also include provisions for what will happen to the firearms in the event of the death or incapacity of the trust’s creator.


One of the key benefits of a gun trust is that it can help individuals avoid certain legal restrictions and requirements associated with owning firearms, such as background checks and waiting periods. In some cases, a gun trust may also provide additional privacy and confidentiality for the individuals involved.

Does California Allow Gun Trusts? 

Gun trusts are legally recognized in California, although there are specific laws and regulations that apply to the ownership and use of firearms in the state.


It’s important to note that, even with a gun trust, individuals in California must still comply with all applicable state and federal firearms laws, including restrictions on the types of firearms that can be owned, the manner in which firearms can be stored and transported, and the conditions under which firearms can be used.

Does California Allow NFA? 

California does not allow individuals to possess or use firearms that are regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA), also known as Title II firearms. The NFA includes a number of classes of firearms that are subject to additional restrictions and regulations, including machine guns, short-barreled shotguns and rifles, silencers, and certain other weapons.


In California, it is illegal for individuals to possess, use, or transfer NFA firearms, unless they are law enforcement or military personnel acting in the course of their official duties. Violation of these restrictions can result in significant fines and imprisonment.

Inheriting a Gun in California 

You can inherit a gun in California. However, there are certain rules and regulations that you must follow in order to legally inherit a firearm in the state.


First, the person who is passing down the gun must be a California resident, and the firearm must be legal to own in California.


Second, if the firearm being inherited is a handgun, you must have a Handgun Safety Certificate and complete a firearms safety training course.


Additionally, you must comply with all other state and federal firearms laws, such as background checks and waiting periods. Some firearms may be illegal to possess in California, even if they were legally acquired through inheritance.

Benefits of a Gun Trust to an Estate Plan 

Adding a gun trust to an estate plan can provide several benefits, including:


  • Simplified Transfer of Firearms: A gun trust can allow for the smooth transfer of firearms from one generation to the next without the need for probate court proceedings.


  • Privacy: A gun trust can provide privacy by not having the details of the firearms and their ownership appear in public probate records.


  • Compliance with State and Federal Regulations: A gun trust can ensure that firearms are transferred in compliance with state and federal firearms regulations, including background checks and waiting periods.


  • Protection of Assets: A gun trust can protect firearms from being seized or sold to pay off debts or settle estate taxes.


To add a gun trust to an estate plan, you would need to work with an attorney who is knowledgeable in both estate planning and firearms law. The attorney can help you draft a gun trust that meets your specific needs and ensure that the trust complies with all relevant state and federal laws.

Avoiding an Ineligible Trustee

Selecting a trustee that is ineligible could potentially lead to consequences if that person takes ownership of the firearm after your death. In California, there are several factors that can make an individual ineligible to own a firearm. Some of the most common reasons for ineligibility include:


  • Conviction of a Felony: If an individual has been convicted of a felony, they are prohibited from owning a firearm in California.


  • Domestic Violence Conviction: Individuals who have been convicted of a domestic violence crime, such as spousal abuse or assault, are also prohibited from owning a firearm in California.


  • Mental Illness: Individuals who have been diagnosed with a mental illness that makes them a danger to themselves or others are prohibited from owning a firearm in California.


  • Substance Abuse: Individuals who have a history of drug or alcohol abuse are also prohibited from owning a firearm in California.


  • Restraining Order: If an individual is the subject of a restraining order, they may be prohibited from owning a firearm in California.


  • Probation: Individuals who are on probation for a crime are also prohibited from owning a firearm in California.


The full list of reasons for ineligibility is outlined in California Penal Code section 29805. If you have any questions about your eligibility to own a firearm in California, it is recommended that you consult with a firearms attorney.

Schedule a Consultation with a Estate Planning Attorney

At Galanti & Copenhaver, Inc., we understand that California firearm laws can be confusing and may leave you feeling overwhelmed. Acting in accordance with federal and state laws is of the utmost importance. Our qualified team takes great care to provide an individualized and client-centered estate planning experience, helping to answer any questions you might have about the process.  Schedule a consultation to speak with one of our experienced team members today!