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.

Presumption of Undue Influence

Presumption of Undue Influence

Presumption of Undue Influence

A person who is an Executor, Administrator, Trustee, or who has a Power of Attorney is a fiduciary. A fiduciary must act in the best interest of the beneficiaries and show that each of his actions was in the beneficiaries’ best interest. When an action benefits the fiduciary in any way, there is a presumption of unfairness, and the fiduciary may be liable.

David Johnson, an attorney who writes on fiduciary litigation, has an article that addresses the case of In re Estate of Klutts, 02-18-00356-CV, (Tex. App.—Fort Worth December 19, 2019, no pet. history). In Klutts, a son who had a power of attorney helped his mother prepare a new will which benefited the son. When the mother died, he attempted to probate the new will. However, his siblings contested the will. The son asked the court to dismiss the contest because his siblings had no evidence that he unduly influenced his mother. The trial court agreed with the son and rejected the will contest. On appeal, the appeals court reversed.

The appeals court held that because he had a power of attorney, the son had to overcome the presumption of undue influence. Thus, the burden was not on the siblings to prove undue influence but on the son to disprove it.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty has a Four Year Statute of Limitations

Breach of Fiduciary Duty has a Four Year Statute of Limitations

I wrote an article that explains that executors, trustees, people holding a power of attorney and others are fiduciaries. You can view that here.

I have written before about the limitations period for breach of fiduciary duty here.  In that article, I talked about a Texas Supreme Court ruling that said there was no limitations period for an action to remove a fiduciary. The idea being that the wrongs being committed for which a removal is sought are ongoing. There is no specific date that a wrong occurred.

Limitations for a specific wrong do have a specific date and the four year statute of limitations applies. In a recent case, a trustee gave a deed of some of the property in the trust. The plaintiffs “asserted that they were residual, contingent beneficiaries of testamentary trusts…” and that the deed denied them benefits that they would have otherwise received because there was not much left in the trust.

The deed was filed in 2010 but suit was not filed until 2015, more than four years after the deed was recorded.  The appeals court upheld the trial courts dismissal because of limitations. 11-16-00253-CV.

How To Revoke A Trust In Texas

How can you revoke a trust in Texas?

In a recent case in Texas, a mother and father had a trust for the benefit of their two children. The mother died. The father later remarried and had two additional children. The father attempted to revoke the first trust and made provisions for the property to go to his four children, share and share-alike. When the father died, one of the first two children asked the court to declare that the revocation of the first trust was invalid. The court agreed stating: (more…)

Executor Violates Duty because of a Mistake

Executor Violates Duty because of a Mistake  Intentional or Negligence Acts

This post concerns fiduciary duties in Texas. The case that is discussed deals with an Executor but could also apply to a trustee or any other fiduciary in Texas. A court of appeals ruled in 2014 that a Texas Executor commits breach of trust not only where he violates a duty in bad faith, or intentionally although in good faith, or negligently but also where he violates a duty because of a mistake. Executor Violates Duty because of a Mistake even if he relied on his attorney for advise. No. 02-14-00170-CV.

Executor Violates Duty because of a Mistake

A man died. He had two sons. First son was appointed executor under the man’s will. Second son was, for some reason, not (more…)

Deed to Trustee When There is No Trust

Deed to Trustee When There is No Trust

Who owns the property

On occasion, an attorney contesting a will will run across a Deed to a Trustee when there is no trust. For instance a deed that is given “To John Smith, Trustee.” There are no documents showing that a trust ever existed. The question comes up about ownership of the property. Does the person listed as trustee own the property outright? Is it owned by someone else? How do you untangle the title to the property?

Courts have devised several ways to handle these situations based on the facts of the case. If the deed shows that the property was given for consideration paid by the person named as trustee, then that person named trustee owns the property outright. Even though he is listed as trustee, he has full ownership of the property if no trust document is found.

On the other hand, if the deed does not indicate that consideration was involved, a resulting trust is said to exist. In a resulting trust, the original grantor, the person who gave the deed to the person named “as trustee” retains ownership of the property. If that person is dead, his heirs own the property. Compare 802sw2d880 with 564sw2d404.

Title search after conveyance

When not considering ownership but just considering whether a deed from a “Trustee” is valid then the mere designation of a party as “Trustee,” “as Trustee,” or “Agent” following the name of a grantee, without additional language actually identifying a trust, does not in itself create a trust and it does not give notice or put an examiner upon inquiry that a trust does exist or that any person other than the present grantee has a beneficial interest. 12SW2d175, 137ALR460, 462-65; 682SW2d246. This “blind trustee” concept was first enacted into statutory form as a conveyancing statute. This statute was used for many years to avoid filing trust instruments of record and to escape the formality of creating a trust where title was held by a “nominee.” For example, when a conveyance is made to “Jack Smith, Trustee” and the creating instrument does not identify a trust or the name of any beneficiary, the trustee may “convey, transfer, or encumber the title of the property without subsequent question by a person who claims to be a beneficiary under a trust or who claims by, through, or under any undisclosed beneficiary or by, through, or under the person designated as trustee in that person’s individual capacity.” TPC § 101.001. Moreover, in this situation, “the trust property is not liable to satisfy the personal obligations of the trustee.” TPC § 101.002. See also TCP § 114.082 and 164SW2d488.
If there is no subsequent conveyance out of the “blind trust” and no other evidence that a trust exists, record title to the property interest in question is deemed to be in the named trustee or the trustee’s successors. 802 S.W.2d 880.

Recent cases where the trust instrument can’t be found

A 2016 case shows additional complications that arise when a trust instrument doesn’t exist. No. 03-13-00768-CV.

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