How Do I Legally Change the Terms of My Gun Trust?

Most people relocate about eleven times during their adult lifetimes. Most people move for job reasons. Others move to be closer (or further away from) family. For the most part, relocations do not affect gun trusts. Generally, trusts in one state are also valid in other states. However, that’s not always the case. So, a trust might need to be legally modified if you move to Georgia from out of state. At the very least, it’s probably a good idea for a Marietta gun rights attorney to review your trust. Firearm ownership is too important to leave to chance.

Other people change the items in the trust (the corpus) or the people associated with the trust, such as beneficiaries and co-trustees. Frequently, such modifications merely involve paperwork. Other times, the process is more complex.

A quick note before we move on. If you change bank accounts, that change usually does not affect your trust. When you purchase firearms to go into the trust, it’s probably a good idea to have a separate bank account. But it’s not necessary. These purchases may be made with your personal credit card or debit card.

Georgia Firearms Laws

In terms of carrying laws, the Peachtree State is a reciprocity state. Most other states except those on the West Coast and in the mid-Atlantic region (Virginia to Massachusetts) recognize Georgia permits. So, if your co-trustees could carry guns in one state, they can usually carry them in Georgia. Additionally, Georgia does not require a permit to carry firearms in a private vehicle or a place of business.

Georgia does have some rather unusual prohibited place laws. It’s illegal to have a gun in the following places:

  • Park: In many states, this prohibition is rather narrow. It only applies to play parks, in most cases. But the Georgia prohibition applies to all parks, as well as recreation areas and historic sights. So, be careful when you take guns hunting. More on that below.
  • Polling Place: The 150-feet cutoff gets some people. 150 feet is about half a football field. Polling places are supposed to have distance markers, but that’s not always the case. There are also a number of loopholes in this prohibition. For example, it’s legal for CCW holders to carry guns at polling places housed in government buildings, if there are no security personnel. Most schools do not qualify because most schools have SROs (school resource officers).
  • Airport Terminal: This provision resembles Swiss cheese as well. CCW holders can carry guns into airports, but not into passenger areas or other areas prohibited under federal law. On a related note, it’s legal for CCW holders to take their guns to most public gatherings, such as concerts, church services, and even restaurants which serve alcohol.

Ga. Code Ann. §§ 27-3-1.1, 27-4-11.1 contains much minutiae about carrying guns while hunting. Generally, it’s illegal to carry anything other than a rifle while hunting. These regulations vary according to the hunting season and whether the person holds a CCW license. Check with an attorney for details.

Adding Co-Trustees

Assuming your attorney did a good job drafting the gun trust, adding a co-trustee is usually not a problem. Both the settlor and the new co-trustee must sign an Appointment of Additional Co-Trustee and Acceptance of Additional Co-Trustee before a notary public. That’s pretty much it.

However, not all NFA gun trusts have this feature. Some settlors (people who create trusts) must reinvent the wheel and add the new co-trustees to the trust documents. That’s a much more time-consuming process which usually requires an attorney.

Once again, if you are new to Georgia, have a local attorney review your trust. A stitch in time saves nine. A quick office visit now might save you a lot of headaches later.

Changing Gun Trust Terms

The Appointment/Acceptance trustee addition method is one of the only exceptions to a fundamental trust rule, viz: Non-trust documents, especially if they are handwritten, are usually invalid. That includes margin notes and other such verbiage. A trust amendment is like a will codicil. The amendment must be executed with the same formalities as the trust.

Minor changes, such as altering a name to match a divorce or marriage, are usually not a big deal. More substantive changes, however, usually require an Amendment and Restatement. We usually recommend A&As in the following situations:

  • Your gun trust has an inventory which you do not want other people to see,
  • Significant trust errors (g. the trust lists you as the settlor but not as the trustee),
  • Trust does not require new co-trustees to sign,
  • Beneficiaries have the power to liquidate the trust (g. when your son becomes of age he can sell the guns and buy a sportscar),
  • No provision for successor trustee designation, and
  • References to “limited trustees” and other legal fictions.

Additionally, it’s a good idea for your trust to refer to the state’s gun possession and ownership statutes. Since no out-of-state trusts refer to Georgia laws, new emigrants probably need new trusts.

Many people obtain gun trusts because it gives them additional peace of mind. To have this same peace of mind regarding the specific provisions in your NFA trust, contact the experienced gun rights attorneys in Marietta at The Phillips Law Firm, L.L.C. After-hours visits are available.

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