How to Create a Firearms Trust in California

by | May 24, 2023 | trusts

Create a Firearms Trust in California


California has stringent laws regarding the ownership, transfer, and possession of firearms. For firearm enthusiasts and responsible gun owners, establishing a firearms trust can provide several benefits, including streamlined transfers, privacy, and efficient estate planning. In this article, we will explore the process of creating a firearms trust in California and discuss its advantages.

Understanding Firearms Trusts

A firearms trust, also known as a gun trust, is a legally recognized entity that owns firearms and allows multiple individuals to possess and use them. This trust can include provisions specific to the management and distribution of firearms, ensuring compliance with state and federal laws while providing flexibility for the trust’s beneficiaries.

Creating a Firearms Trust in California

To create a firearms trust in California, you will need to follow these essential steps:

Research State and Federal Laws

Before establishing a firearms trust, familiarize yourself with California’s firearm laws, including regulations on ownership, transfers, and possession. It is crucial to comply with both state and federal regulations throughout the process.

Select a Trustee

Choose a trustworthy and responsible individual to serve as the trustee of the firearms trust. This person will be responsible for managing and distributing the firearms according to the terms of the trust.


Selecting the right trustee for your firearms trust is a critical decision that requires careful consideration. The trustee plays a crucial role in managing and overseeing the firearms and ensuring compliance with state and federal laws. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting a trustee for your firearms trust:


Trustworthiness and Responsibility

Choose someone who is trustworthy, reliable, and responsible. The trustee should have a strong track record of acting in an ethical and responsible manner. They will be responsible for ensuring that the firearms are managed appropriately and used only by eligible individuals.


Knowledge of Firearms Laws

It is essential that the trustee has a good understanding of state and federal firearms laws. They should be familiar with the specific regulations and requirements in your jurisdiction to ensure compliance at all times. This knowledge will help the trustee make informed decisions and handle any legal matters related to the firearms.


Responsible Firearm Ownership

Look for a trustee who is experienced in responsible firearm ownership. Ideally, they should have a good understanding of firearms safety, storage, and maintenance. This knowledge will ensure that the firearms are properly handled and stored in accordance with legal requirements.


Willingness and Availability

Ensure that the potential trustee is willing to take on the responsibility of managing the firearms trust. Managing a firearms trust requires ongoing commitment and involvement. It is important that the trustee has the time and availability to fulfill their duties effectively.

Draft the Trust Document

Consult with an experienced estate planning attorney who specializes in firearms trusts. They will help you draft a comprehensive trust document that complies with California law and includes specific provisions for firearms management, possession, and transfer.

Include Beneficiaries

Identify the beneficiaries who will have access to the firearms and benefit from the trust. Ensure that they are legally eligible to possess firearms in California.

What are beneficiaries? 

Beneficiaries are the individuals or organizations named in the trust document who have a vested interest in the assets held by the trust. They may include family members, friends, charities, or any other designated individuals or entities. Beneficiaries can be primary beneficiaries, who have immediate rights to the assets, or contingent beneficiaries, who would receive the assets if certain conditions are met, such as the primary beneficiaries passing away or disclaiming their interest.

Inventory and Appraisal

Create an inventory of all firearms that will be included in the trust. Obtain professional appraisals to establish their value accurately.

Funding the Trust

Transfer ownership of the firearms to the trust by following the proper legal procedures, including completing the necessary paperwork and complying with any required background checks.

Compliance with California Laws

Ensure that the firearms within the trust comply with California’s specific requirements, such as the roster of approved handguns and restrictions on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Benefits of a Firearms Trust

Establishing a firearms trust in California offers several advantages, including:


Avoiding Probate: By transferring firearms into a trust, you can potentially avoid the lengthy and public probate process, ensuring a smoother transfer of ownership upon the trust creator’s death.


Privacy and Confidentiality: Unlike a will, a trust does not become part of the public record, allowing for greater privacy and confidentiality regarding firearm ownership.


Intra-Familial Transfers: A firearms trust enables seamless transfers of firearms between family members, reducing the need for background checks and other bureaucratic hurdles.


Planning for Incapacity: A well-drafted firearms trust can include provisions for managing and distributing firearms in case the trust creator becomes incapacitated.

Consult a Professional 

Creating a firearms trust in California is a prudent step for responsible gun owners who seek efficient estate planning and compliant firearm transfers. By working with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney, individuals can ensure their firearms are properly managed and transferred to their intended beneficiaries while adhering to California’s strict firearm laws. Remember, each individual’s circumstances are unique, so seek professional legal advice to create a firearms trust tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Schedule a Consultation with a Professional Estate Planning Attorney

At Galanti & Copenhaver, we prioritize providing a tailored experience for each and every client we serve. Our distinctive approach enables us to assess your unique needs, ensuring you feel acquainted with the process. Our dedicated team is readily available to address any questions or concerns you may have about the process. Take the first step by scheduling a consultation today and speaking with a member of our team at Galanti & Copenhaver!