The Texas Gun Trust: Your Ultimate Guide to Firearm Ownership & Inheritance

The Texas Gun Trust: Your Ultimate Guide to Firearm Ownership & Inheritance

What is a Texas Gun Trust?

A Texas Gun Trust, also known as an NFA trust or a firearm trust, is a legal entity that holds and manages firearms. People use them to transfer ownership of their guns to family members. Texas Gun Trust can also be used to legally share the use of a federally regulated category III asset, such as a silencer or suppressor, among multiple individuals. If you have been to a Texas gun show, you have probably seen booths with lawyers (and sometimes non-lawyers) offering to prepare a gun trust for you. I don’t prepare gun trust or any trust for that matter, but some lawyers do. My practice is limited to litigation involving inheritance disputes, not preparing wills or trusts.

Are Texas Gun Trust limited to firearms?

In a 2024 case, a man died intestate (13-18-00007-CV). When no will could be found, his family filed an Application to Determine Heirship. A Texas Gun Trust was found, but not a will. A friend of the decedent, Yarter, filed an intervention, saying he was the beneficiary of the Texas Gun Trust. Yarter was the only beneficiary of the trust. The gun trust had listed all of the decedent’s properties on Schedule A, including his home and bank accounts. Yarter claimed all that property. The family moved to dismiss the intervention on the grounds that Yarter didn’t have standing and that the gun trust was only for firearms. They claimed that the Texas Gun Trust could not transfer other property. The trial court agreed. The friend appealed, and the court of appeals reversed.

The court of appeals ruled on the issue of Yarter’s standing to intervene in the probate case. Since he was a beneficiary of the trust, he had standing to intervene. The court also ruled that a Texas Gun Trust is not limited to holding only firearms. If the trust doesn’t limit the types of assets it can hold, it can hold any type of property, real, personal, or mixed. However, there was a fact question of what property was included in the trust, so they sent the case back to be tried by a jury on the issue of what property was included in the trust.

What this Case Means

A trust can contain property, real and personal. Just because it is called a gun trust doesn’t limit it to only firearms. A gun trust could be created that could limit the assets of the trust to firearms, but when it is silence, a Texas Gun Trust can hold any property that any other trust can hold.

If you attempt to leave real estate and bank accounts in a trust, make sure you have consulted an attorney to help you with the trust to avoid disputes like the one in this case.

Tax Foreclosure in Texas

Tax Foreclosure in Texas

Taxing authorities can foreclose on your real property when you don’t pay your taxes. By statute, an owner may redeem real property purchased at a tax sale by paying certain amounts within a prescribed period of time after the purchaser’s deed is recorded. What does a tax foreclosure in Texas have to do with an inheritance? Read on and find out.

Inheritance and foreclosure

Let’s say an elderly relative doesn’t keep up with their bills. Tax payments can be missed or forgotten. A relative may need to be put in a nursing home, and while there, no one pays the taxes. The relatives may not know that a tax foreclosure happens in each situation. This can happen even with a property that is the person’s homestead. Depending on the facts, the heirs of the deceased relative may be able to redeem the property after the death of the decedent.

A situation like the above happened when an elderly man could not care for himself. 593sw3d167. His mother-in-law, Barton, asked her daughter, Karen, to quit her job to take care of him. When the man died, Karen was appointed administrator of his estate. Before he died, several taxing authorities foreclosed on his three-acre tract valued at $217,00 and, after his death, sold it at a foreclosure sale for $68,000. The land was the only asset of his estate.

Karen died shortly after the man, and Barton was appointed successor administrator of his estate. She then began the process of redeeming the property back into the estate. Barton was successful in redeeming the property.

Takeaway

The takeaway from this post is that a tax foreclosure in Texas is not as final as one might think. If you meet the criteria set out in the statute, you may be able to redeem the property after it is sold even if you are not the original owner and may only be an heir.

Precatory words in a Texas will

Precatory words in a Texas will

Precatory words in a Texas will

What are precatory words?

Precatory words are words that are a request or a desire. These are seen mostly in self-made wills. The problems with these words are:  do the words pass title?

Examples of precatory words

Occasionally, when someone writes a will, they will use words like “I wish that Bob gets my house” or “it is my desire that Bob gets my house.”

One will had the following language “The…stock belonging to me has been handed to Myrtle and Lyter for what I lost them in the oil deal.”

In general, none of this language in wills will pass any property. Precatory words in a Texas will just express a wish of the testator and don’t necessarily pass property. If the property is not otherwise mentioned in the will, the testator dies intestate (without a will) as to that property.

Whether language is precatory-i.e., language that requests, recommends, or expresses a desire rather than a command- or testamentary is a question of intent. 545 S.W.3d 542. Words that are precatory in their ordinary meaning will be construed as mandatory when it is evident that such was the grantor’s intent. 436 S.W.2d 234. In that case, the court considered a will and codicil and noted that when words like “desire” are used “in direct reference to the disposition of the testator’s own property and show a clear intent to make such disposition without the intervention of any act by the . . . donee, they are ordinarily regarded as imperative and testamentary rather than precatory.” Id. But precatory language is treated differently depending on whether it is directed to a beneficiary or an executor. Id. at 239-40. A wish directed to a beneficiary is generally regarded as precatory without a clear expression of intent to the contrary, while such words addressed to an executor “are more often regarded as mandatory.” Id. at 240. Using will forms found on the internet is not a good idea.

So, be precise. Don’t use niceties. Tell people how you are disposing of your property. “I give my house to Bob.” “I give my stock to Myrtle.”

When Can a Texas judge change or reform a will

When Can a Texas judge change or reform a will

Contesting a will in Texas

When can a Texas judge reform a will?

The Texas Estates Code, 255.451, says a Texas judge can reform a will or modified it in certain circumstances. The same is true of a trust. Prop. C. 112.054. In a 2019 case, 06-19-00014-CV, a trust was modified by the trial court. The appeals court reversed the modificaiton.

Facts

A man and woman were married. 06-19-00014-CV. The wife had a child, Edna. The husband adopted Edna. Thereafter, they had two children between them, Ignacio and Esperanza. At some point, they created a trust.

The first Trust article, labelled “Identification,” read, “The Grantors have two children, their daughter, ESPERANZA GONZALES and son IGNACIO G. GONZALES, JR. All references in this Declaration of Trust to the `Grantors’ children’ are to them. The term “children” was never used again. The trust only used the term “descendants” after that. Edna’s name was not in the trust.

There was one blank in the document that said “all of the remaining trust property shall be distributed to the Grantors’ [_____].” Ignacio and Esperanza asked the trial judge to reform the will and fill in the blank with “children.” Edna opposed that and wanted the blank to be filled in with the term “descendants” that was used in all the provisions that disposed of property. The trial court reformed the trust by inserting “children.” Edna appealed.

Ruling

The appeals court reversed. It discussed the law about the ability of a Texas judge’s ability to reform a will or a trust based on a scrivener’s error (a mistake made by the attorney preparing the document as opposed to a mistake by the clients.) They noted that the person seeking the reformation had a high burden. A clear and convincing burden of proof which Ignacio and Esperanza did not meet.

The court agreed that there was a scrivener’s error but it could have been leaving Edna out of the Identification paragraph as well as not filing in the blank. They sent the case back to have these issues tried by a jury.

What should you know

A Texas judge can reform a will. If there is a will or trust that has errors in it, a court can correct those errors in certain circumstances.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A TEXAS WILL DOESN’T DISPOSE OF ALL THE PROPERTY

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A TEXAS WILL DOESN’T DISPOSE OF ALL THE PROPERTY

Property not disposed of by will

A will must dispose of all property in all circumstances. If it doesn’t, the the laws of descent and distribution will determine who gets the property.

When a person executes a will, the intention is that all of the property will be disposed of. Sometimes that doesn’t happen.

In a 2019 case, 07-17-00296-CV, the testator made a will. In the will he left his half of the community to his wife as a life estate. When the wife died, he made three contingent provisions for the property to go different ways depending on the contingencies. None of the contingencies occurred.

Since none of the contingencies occurred and the will only made a disposition of the property based on those contingencies, it was determined that he died intestate as to that property after the life tenant (his wife) died.

INHERITANCE RIGHTS IN TEXAS—HOW TO OBTAIN THEM

INHERITANCE RIGHTS IN TEXAS—HOW TO OBTAIN THEM

Background

Heirship proceeding are different from will contest.

This article deals with getting property that is yours based on an inheritance. This may occur where a person dies without a will. It can also occur where there is a will but the will leaves property to the decedent’s “children” or his “heirs” or something similar without identifying the children or heirs by name. It may occur when there is a will but someone has taken your inheritance without your knowledge or when you didn’t know about your inheritance. This is different from a will contest where you are trying to prove your inheritance.

Let us say an heir finds out that a relative died some years back and that they may have some inheritance rights. What can they do? Is the statute of limitations a problem?

This situation may arise because a child was unborn or was an infant when the facts occurred. It may be that the child is illegitimate or only recently learned through DNA who their relatives were. It can also arise when other heirs, not just children, discover their potential inheritance.

There is currently no statute of limitation on heirship proceedings if the decedent died after January 1, 2014. If the decedent died before that date, there may or may not be a limitation problem depending on the circumstances. This is complicated, involving heirship proceedings (trial brief), but there is a possibility that it can be done.

Don’t get this limitation period confused with the two-year limitation period for contesting a will. This article deals with heirship and not with contesting wills. And if the facts are in your favor and the case is properly handled the limitation of those dying before January 1, 2014 may be avoided. In a recent case, the decedent died in 1972. Her heirs didn’t file any proceedings until 2013 when they filed a suit to get their inheritance. The statute of limitations was not a problem because of the facts and how the case was handled.

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