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Avoid Probate While Funding Your Living Trust

What Does Funding My Living Trust Mean and How Do I Do That?

How to Fund Your Living Trust

Funding your trust is the process of transferring ownership of your assets from you to your trust. To do this, you physically change the titles from your individual name (or joint names) to the name of your trust. You will also change most beneficiary designations to your trust so those proceeds will flow into your trust when you die.

Avoid Probate While Funding Your Living TrustAvoid Probate

This is important, because if you have signed your trust document but haven’t changed titles and beneficiary designations, you will not avoid probate. Your trust can only control the assets you put into it. You may have a really good trust document, but until you fund it (transfer your assets to it), it doesn’t control anything. If your goal in having a living trust is to avoid probate at death and court interference at incapacity, then you must fund your trust now while you are able.

Some people are surprised to learn they aren’t finished when they sign the trust document. When you sign a will, that’s all you have to do. But the process of changing titles when you have a will occurs after you die, and is handled by the probate court and attorneys. Whey you fund your trust, you are changing the titles now so there will be nothing for the courts to do when you die — or if you become incapacitated before then. So you can take the time to do this now or you can pay the courts and attorney to do it for you later.

Who transfers what?

You are ultimately responsible for making sure all of your appropriate assets are transfered to your trust but, in most cases, you will transfer some and your attorney will transfer some. Most attorneys will transfer your real estate, then provide you with instructions and sample letters for other assets. Ideally, your attorney will review each asset with you, explain the procedure and help you decide who will be responsible for transferring each one. For some assets, a short assignment document will be used; others will require written instructions. But most can be handled by mail or fax. Once you understand the process, you may decide to transfer many of your assets yourself and save yourself some on legal fees. (There may be a few assets your attorney advises you to leave out of your trust; if so, make sure you understand why and what will happen to them.)

What if you forget to transfer an asset?

If you forget to transfer an asset, it can still be part of your living trust plan. Along with your trust document, your attorney will prepare a short “pour over” will that acts like a safety net. When you die, the will “catches” any forgotten asset and sends it into your trust. The asset will probably have to go through probate first, but then it can be distributed according to the instructions in your trust.

While the funding process is not difficult, it will take some time and it’s easy to get sidetracked or procrastinate. Make a list of your assets, their values and locations, then start with the most valuable ones and work your way down. Remember why you are doing this, and look forward to the peace of mind you’ll have when the funding of your trust is complete.

Family Partnership

The Family Limited Partnership: How to Transfer Your Business (and Other Assets) to Your Children Without Losing Control

A family limited partnership will let you remove your business, and any future appreciation on it, from your estate now, and still keep some control. It is especially useful when the business might otherwise have to be liquidated to pay estate taxes. Stocks, real estate or insurance can also be used instead of a business.

Family PartnershipHere’s how it works. When you set up a family limited partnership, you transfer the assets into the partnership in exchange for partnership shares. You keep the general partner shares and, over time, you can gift limited partnership shares to your children, removing the value of the gifted partnership interests from your estate.

Though you have a fiduciary obligation to the other owners, you control the family partnership as the general partner; you determine how the assets are managed, when income is distributed and how the partnership is run. Limited partners (typically your children) are passive — they have no say in how the partnership is managed. Profits and losses are allocated among the partners, but no income is distributed unless you, as the general partner, decide to do so. Also, the agreement can be written so that shares cannot be sold or transferred without your approval.

Because there is no market for these shares, their value is often discounted. (What would someone pay for minority shares in assets over which they have no control?) So you are able to transfer these assets to your children and remove them from your taxable estate at a discounted value — all without losing control.

If you gift shares in increments of $14,000, there is no gift tax. Larger gifts can be applied to your federal unified gift and estate tax exemption. (State taxes may also apply.) And since you are making gifts based on current value — not the appreciated value when you die — this lets you, in effect, freeze the value of the gifted assets at the time the gifts are made.

A family limited partnership gives you more control than a corporation, in which even minority stockholders (either your children or their creditors) can have substantial voting rights and can force sales, distributions or even liquidations. The assets also have some protection from future lawsuits and your children’s creditors; if a creditor is awarded a limited partnership interest, the creditor has no more rights than the previous limited partner.

Benefits of a Family Limited Partnership

  • Asset TransferAssets of substantial value, and any future appreciation on these assets, are removed from your estate, reducing the size of your estate and saving estate taxes.
  • The assets are often transferred at a discounted value.
  • The assets can be gifted over time to family members as annual tax-free gifts (no gift tax).
  • Limited partners (other family members) have no say in how the partnership is managed.
  • Assets have some protection from children’s creditors and future lawsuits.
  • As general partner, you keep some control:

o You control how the assets are managed and how the partnership is run;

o You decide if any income is distributed;

o Shares may not be sold without your approval.

Planning for the transfer of your family business is an important piece to your overall estate plan.  It is worthwhile to spend some time learning about estate planning and the ways a comprehensive estate plan can benefit you and your family. Find out more on what estate planning is here.

Update Your Estate Plan

Review and Update Your Estate Plan While You Can

Some time ago, a client of mine approached me with a unique problem.  The client’s friend, whom we will call Martin, had recently passed away.

My client explained to me that Martin’s wife died many years ago, and that he had no children. Martin lived alone, and rarely had visitors save for my client and a group of friends, that provided him with companionship and assistance in his old age.  

We discovered that a trust owned Martin’s home.  My client found a copy of this trust, which Martin and his deceased wife signed in 1978.  All of Martin’s successor trustees were dead.  All of the beneficiaries named in the document, which were to receive Martin’s property upon his death, were also dead.  A section of the trust entitled “Remote Contingent Beneficiaries” stated in part that in the event of a failure of beneficiaries, the trustee was to distribute property to the heirs of the named individuals.  This was a problem.  

Update Your Estate PlanTo make a very long and arduous story short, as the process took months to complete and necessarily involved the Court to appoint a trustee, we eventually managed to find a long lost brother-in-law, with whom Martin was estranged, and a niece of one of the named beneficiaries.  These people, who had not visited or called Martin for many years, if ever, inherited the sale proceeds of Martin’s home.  His good friends, whom Martin would have wanted to receive his property, received nothing.   Needless to say, this did not sit well with my client, or his friends, and I am afraid that much of their ire became directed at the author of this story.  It appears that the saying that no good deed goes unpunished is an undeniable truth in this case.  

The Morale of the Story: Review and Update Your Estate Plan

There is a good lesson to be learned from Martin’s case.  If you fail to review your estate plan, even one as basic at Martin’s, unintended results can, and will occur.  Naming successor trustees and administrators, and updating these individuals regularly when circumstances change, is critical in order to make your plan work.  It is also important to give serious thought to what are ordinarily “boiler plate” sections of wills and trusts, which state what happens in the event of a failure of beneficiaries.  Just because it is “boiler plate” does not mean the language in these provisions will not be used and is not important.  Amending a will or trust to address these issues is relatively inexpensive, and it is a good idea to perform these reviews every few years and update your plan accordingly.

 

3 Succession Solutions for Family Farms

3 Succession Solutions for Family Farms

BY MATTHEW T. MCCLINTOCK, J.D. VICE PRESIDENT, EDUCATION, WEALTHCOUNSEL

Splitting up a family farm is hardly a simple process.

Farm families must not only determine how to sustain farm operations in later generations but also how to divide the estate equitably among children. This gets particularly tricky when some kids are working the farm and others are not.

However, building out a detailed succession and estate plan for the family farm is essential. Families that fail to do so put both family harmony and their most valuable asset at risk. According to the USDA, the average value of assets for larger family farms was about $4.5 million in 2014.

3 Succession Solutions for Family FarmsHow Do I Protect My Family Farm through Succession Planning?

How can a family pass the farming business—and access to the land and equipment necessary to run it—to a farming heir without neglecting non-farming family members? Fortunately, there are several ways to reach a compromise. Three of the most common succession solutions for family farms include:

  • Farming heir purchases farm when parents reach retirement age;
  • Farming heir purchases farm after parents’ death; or
  • Parents split the farm up.

The farming heir can purchase the farm from his or her parents once they’ve reached retirement age, and the proceeds can then be incorporated into the parents’ estate plan and divided among heirs accordingly. However, this can result in capital gains and recapture taxes for the parents, which reduces the value of what they’re able to pass on once they die. It also requires that the farming heir either have access to potentially large amounts of money or take out significant debt to complete the purchase.

Alternatively, the farming heir can purchase the farm after the parents’ death. This way, he or she can take advantage of estate planning rules to eliminate the capital gains tax, as the farm receives a step-up in basis after the parents’ death. However, the heir may have to pay more to purchase the farm at the parents’ death instead of their retirement if the farm’s value increases during that period of time. To get around this, the parents could agree to give the farming heir a set price or pre-determined discount ahead of time, factoring in the parents’ overall estate plan. (Whether the heir buys the farm before or after the parents’ death, parents may also establish a mechanism to credit the purchasing heir with sweat equity the heir has put into the farm or any rent the heir has paid to the parents to stay on the farm.)

Parents can also split the farm up, giving individual pieces out equally or giving each heir an undivided interest in all pieces of the property. They can then give the farming heir the right to rent that property from the other heirs for his lifetime or another specific time period. With this technique, specifically stating the mechanism to establish the heir’s rental rates in estate plans is crucial. The rate, for example, could be tied to the average for the county, plus or minus a percentage. The more specific the terms, the less room for ambiguity and family arguments.

There are many more areas where succession planning can be used to protect you and your family.  Learn more about those areas in this article.

No matter the option farm families ultimately choose, it’s crucial to have a detailed, formal plan in place that outlines terms and, when possible, minimizes taxes. A estate planning professional can help with this. To find one near you, click here.

Estate Planning Items Everyone Needs: Will

Three Estate Planning Items Everyone Needs

By Matthew T. McClintock, J.D.
Vice President, Education, WealthCounsel

Many people mistakenly believe that estate planning is only necessary for the wealthy. In reality, a basic estate plan is essential for everyone, regardless of income or net worth, because we all want to minimize confusion, unnecessary costs, and stress for loved ones after a death.

As discussed in a recent Yahoo! Finance article featuring WealthCounsel, estate planning can be a difficult topic for many families to address, but it’s a necessary one. Without proper preparation and documentation, assets—like houses, retirement plans and savings accounts—can end up in limbo for years, sometimes requiring expensive legal assistance to straighten matters out.

At a minimum, everyone should have the following three items in place:

Estate Planning Items Everyone Needs: WillAn up-to-date will or trust. 

Wills are easy to create, but they require the distribution of assets to go through probate. Probate is a legal process that involves:

  • Validating a deceased person’s will; 
  • Identifying, inventorying, and appraising the deceased person’s property
  • Paying debts and taxes; 
  • And ultimately distributing the remaining property as the will directs. 

The probate process often requires a lot of technical paperwork and court appearances, and the resulting legal and court fees are paid from estate property—reducing the amount that’s passed on to heirs.

A trust can be more expensive to set up and requires professional assistance, but it provides benefits that a will cannot. First, when they’re structured properly, trusts will help avoid guardianship or conservatorship if you become incapacitated. A will only works after you’ve died; a trust, by contrast, works all the time, including periods of incapacity before death.

Trusts usually avoid probate, which helps beneficiaries gain access to assets more quickly as well as save time and court fees. Depending on how it’s structured, a trust may also reduce estate taxes owed and can protect an estate from heirs’ creditors. 

A durable power of attorney. 

A power of attorney is a written authorization that allows someone else to make financial and legal decisions for a person if that person should become hospitalized, disabled or otherwise incapacitated.

Not all powers of attorney are created equal. Some are put in place for short periods of time only—while a person is vacationing overseas but dealing with legal matters at home, for example. That’s why it’s important to have a durable power of attorney in place, which simply means that the agreement is not for a temporary period of time. It may be valid immediately when it’s signed, or it may go into effect at a later point. But what makes it “durable” is the fact that it will survive your later incapacity. (If a power of attorney is not durable, it is revoked when you become incapacitated – the very moment when you need it most.)

Powers of attorney for property should only be given to trusted individuals, ideally those who are good with financial and legal matters. Medical powers of attorney can be separated and given to someone else, if desired. 

Updated beneficiary designation forms.

Beneficiary designation forms on life insurance policies, 401(k) accounts and other assets will generally override any conflicting provisions within a will or trust. It’s essential to make sure all forms are checked and updated regularly, ideally on an annual basis.

How to buy a silencer

How to Buy a Silencer

Purchasing and possessing a silencer or suppressor became legal in the state of Minnesota on August 1st, 2015. The question then becomes, how do I buy a silencer?

Silencers (or suppressors) are regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA) which means they are subject to additional regulations above and beyond purchasing a “regular” firearm. Learn more about NFA Firearms in this blog.

How to buy a silencerThe NFA firearm regulations require a $200 tax to be paid per item upon purchase as well as the purchaser to either set up a trust or file on a personal level with several limitations. A trust is a separate legal entity, like a corporation. Choosing to form a trust allows you to skip the photo, fingerprint, and chief law enforcement officer sign-off requirements that individuals must meet before getting a suppressor. This can be useful if you live in a municipality where law enforcement officials refuse to sign NFA paperwork for political reasons.  

As previously mentioned, there are two ways you can get a suppressor. Please know that the information below is only a comprehensive overview. Please feel free to contact us for more information on the best way to get your suppressor.

How to Get a Suppressor as an Individual

 

  • Go to a suppressor dealer and place your order.
    Most dealers require, at minimum, a down payment. More often than not, you’ll find that they require complete payment up front.
  • Your dealer must have the product before moving on to the next step.
    Unless your dealer has the suppressor you are purchasing in stock, you’ll need to wait for the dealer to receive the suppressor you’re purchasing because in order to complete the paperwork, you’ll need the actual serial number off of the suppressor. If the dealer has to order the product, you may have to wait up to several months for the suppressor to come in because the dealer has to file their own federal paperwork as well.
  • Pick up your paperwork from the dealer.
    The dealer will give you two copies of ATF form 4 containing your serial number, make and model.
  • Fill out ATF form 4.
    ATF form 4 is your application for your tax stamp. You’ll need to fill out two copies of this form.
  • Get two passport photos and get fingerprinted.
    Many drug stores offer passport photos in a timely fashion. You’ll also need to get fingerprinted. To do this, you’ll likely have to go down to the sheriff’s office, jail or police station and pay a small fee (usually about $10 or so).
  • Get a CLEO (Chief Law Enforcement Officer) signature on your form 4.
    A local chief law enforcement officer (your local police chief, sheriff, or county attorney, usually) must sign your form 4 application, indicating that they are not aware of any legal impediment to your ownership of a suppressor, and that the fingerprints and photos are actually yours.
  • Send the application, fingerprints, photos, and a $200 tax payment to the ATF.
    This will likely take several months to process.
  • Dealer will receive your tax stamp.
    The ATF will eventually mail the dealer a copy of your paperwork, with your tax stamp which allows the dealer to complete the transaction.

 

How to Get a Suppressor as a Trust

When purchasing a suppressor with a trust versus as an individual, you do not have to submit fingerprints, passport photos or

 

  • See a trust lawyer.
    The trust becomes the owner of the item(s) that you purchase. A good trust lawyer will make sure that the trust is properly and legally created. We don’t recommend using fill-in-the-blank trusts from non-attorneys as they may not satisfy your needs.

 

    1. Go to a suppressor dealer and place your order.
      Most dealers require, at minimum, a down payment. More often than not, you’ll find that they require complete payment up front.
    2. Your dealer must have the product before moving on to the next step.
      Unless your dealer has the suppressor you are purchasing in stock, you’ll need to wait for the dealer to receive the suppressor you’re purchasing because in order to complete the paperwork, you’ll need the actual serial number off of the suppressor. If the dealer has to order the product, you may have to wait up to several months for the suppressor to come in because the dealer has to file their own federal paperwork as well.
    3. Pick up your paperwork from the dealer.
      The dealer will give you two copies of ATF form 4 containing your serial number, make and model.
    4. Fill out ATF form 4.
      ATF form 4 is your application for your tax stamp. You’ll need to fill out two copies of this form.

 

  • This Step is Coming June 28th, 2016
    Get two passport photos and get fingerprinted.
    Many drug stores offer passport photos in a timely fashion. You’ll also need to get fingerprinted. To do this, you’ll likely have to go down to the sheriff’s office, jail or police station and pay a small fee (usually about $10 or so).

 

  1. Send the application, a copy of your trust, (coming soon – two passport photos and fingerprint card) and a $200 tax payment to the ATF.
    This will likely take several months to process.
  2. Dealer will receive your tax stamp.
    The ATF will eventually mail the dealer a copy of your paperwork, with your tax stamp which allows the dealer to complete the transaction.

Source: Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance website, ATF.gov National Firearms Act website

Estate Planning is for Everyone (1)

What is Estate Planning?

Believe it or not, you have an estate. In fact, nearly everyone does. Your estate is comprised of everything you own— your car, home, other real estate, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, personal possessions. No matter how large or how modest, everyone has an estate and something in common—you can’t take it with you when you die.

When that happens—and it is a “when” and not an “if”—you probably want to control how those things are given to the people or organizations you care most about. To ensure your wishes are carried out, you need to provide instructions stating whom you want to receive something of yours, what you want them to receive, and when they are to receive it. You will, of course, want this to happen with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees, and court costs.

That is estate planning—making a plan in advance and naming whom you want to receive the things you own after you die. However, good estate planning is much more than that. It should also:

  • Include instructions for passing your values (religion, education, hard work, etc.) in addition to your valuables.
  • Include instructions for your care if you become disabled before you die.
  • Name a guardian and an inheritance manager for minor children.
  • Provide for family members with special needs without disrupting government benefits.
  • Provide for loved ones who might be irresponsible with money or who may need future protection from creditors or divorce.
  • Include life insurance to provide for your family at your death, disability income insurance to replace your income if you cannot work due to illness or injury, and long-term care insurance to help pay for your care in case of an extended illness or injury.
  • Provide for the transfer of your business at your retirement, disability, or death.
  • Minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees.
  • Be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Your plan should be reviewed and updated as your family and financial situations (and laws) change over your lifetime.

Estate Planning is for Everyone (1)Estate planning is for everyone.
It is not just for “retired” people, although people do tend to think about it more as they get older. Unfortunately, we can’t successfully predict how long we will live, and illness and accidents happen to people of all ages.

Estate planning is not just for “the wealthy,” either, although people who have built some wealth do often think more about how to preserve it. Good estate planning often means more to families with modest assets, because they can afford to lose the least.

Too many people don’t plan.
Individuals put off estate planning because they think they don’t own enough, they’re not old enough, they’re busy, think they have plenty of time, they’re confused and don’t know who can help them, or they just don’t want to think it. Then, when something happens to them, their families have to pick up the pieces.

If you don’t have a plan, your state has one for you, but you probably won’t like it.
At disability: If your name is on the title of your assets and you can’t conduct business due to mental or physical incapacity, only a court appointee can sign for you. The court, not your family, will control how your assets are used to care for you through a conservatorship or guardianship (depending on the term used in your state). It can become expensive and time consuming, it is open to the public, and it can be difficult to end even if you recover.

At your death: If you die without an intentional estate plan, your assets will be distributed according to the probate laws in your state. In many states, if you are married and have children, your spouse and children will each receive a share. That means your spouse could receive only a fraction of your estate, which may not be enough to live on. If you have minor children, the court will control their inheritance. If both parents die (i.e., in a car accident), the court will appoint a guardian without knowing whom you would have chosen.

Given the choice—and you do have the choice—wouldn’t you prefer these matters be handled privately by your family, not by the courts? Wouldn’t you prefer to keep control of who receives what and when? And, if you have young children, wouldn’t you prefer to have a say in who will raise them if you can’t?

Estate Planning is for Everyone (2)An estate plan begins with a will or living trust.
A will provides your instructions, but it does not avoid probate. Any assets titled in your name or directed by your will must go through your state’s probate process before they can be distributed to your heirs. (If you own property in other states, your family will probably face multiple probates, each one according to the laws in that state.) The process varies greatly from state to state, but it can become expensive with legal fees, executor fees, and court costs. It can also take anywhere from nine months to two years or longer. With rare exception, probate files are open to the public and excluded heirs are encouraged to come forward and seek a share of your estate. In short, the court system, not your family, controls the process.

Not everything you own will go through probate. Jointly-owned property and assets that let you name a beneficiary (for example, life insurance, IRAs, 401(k)s, annuities, etc.) are not controlled by your will and usually will transfer to the new owner or beneficiary without probate. But there are many problems with joint ownership, and avoidance of probate is not guaranteed. For example, if a valid beneficiary is not named, the assets will have to go through probate and will be distributed along with the rest of your estate. If you name a minor as a beneficiary, the court will probably insist on a guardianship until the child legally becomes an adult.

For these reasons a revocable living trust is preferred by many families and professionals. It can avoid probate at death (including multiple probates if you own property in other states), prevent court control of assets at incapacity, bring all of your assets (even those with beneficiary designations) together into one plan, provide maximum privacy, is valid in every state, and can be changed by you at any time. It can also reflect your love and values to your family and future generations.

Unlike a will, a trust doesn’t have to die with you. Assets can stay in your trust, managed by the trustee you selected, until your beneficiaries reach the age you want them to inherit. Your trust can continue longer to provide for a loved one with special needs, or to protect the assets from beneficiaries’ creditors, spouses, and irresponsible spending.

A living trust is more expensive initially than a will, but considering it can avoid court interference at incapacity and death, many people consider it to be a bargain.

Planning your estate will help you organize your records and correct titles and beneficiary designations.
Would your family know where to find your financial records, titles, and insurance policies if something happened to you? Planning your estate now will help you organize your records, locate titles and beneficiary designations, and find and correct errors.

Most people don’t give much thought to the wording they put on titles and beneficiary designations. You may have good intentions, but an innocent error can create all kinds of problems for your family at your disability and/or death. Beneficiary designations are often out-of-date or otherwise invalid. Naming the wrong beneficiary on your tax-deferred plan can lead to devastating tax consequences. It is much better for you to take the time to do this correctly now than for your family to pay an attorney to try to fix things later.

Estate planning does not have to be expensive.
If you don’t think you can afford a complex estate plan now, start with what you can afford. For a young family or single adult, that may mean a will, term life insurance, and powers of attorney for your assets and health care decisions. Then, let your planning develop and expand as your needs change and your financial situation improves. Don’t try to do this yourself to save money. An experienced attorney will be able to provide critical guidance and peace of mind that your documents are prepared properly.

The best time to plan your estate is now.
None of us really likes to think about our own mortality or the possibility of being unable to make decisions for ourselves. This is exactly why so many families are caught off-guard and unprepared when incapacity or death does strike. Don’t wait. You can put something in place now and change it later…which is exactly the way estate planning should be done.

The best benefit is peace of mind.
Knowing you have a properly prepared plan in place – one that contains your instructions and will protect your family – will give you and your family peace of mind. This is one of the most thoughtful and considerate things you can do for yourself and for those you love.

NFA Firearm

What is a NFA Firearm?

NFA FirearmThe NFA is the National Firearms Act which was passed in 1934. It was created to regulate the ownership of various firearms and accessories including machine guns, short barrel rifles, silencers or suppressors short barreled shotguns, destructive devices and a group of items named “any other weapons.”

The NFA imposes a tax on persons or entities making or transferring firearms. When you purchase a firearm or accessory like a suppressor, that is considered a transfer. NFA firearms are taxed at a rate of $200 per transfer per firearm or accessory.

Since suppressors are now legal to purchase and possess in the state of Minnesota as of August 1st, 2015, firearm enthusiasts are now digging into the NFA and gun trusts. If you’re reading this because you’re interested in purchasing a silencer or suppressor, you will find more useful information in our How to Buy a Silencer blog.

Firearms & Accessories That Fall Under the NFA

A machine gun is any gun that can fire more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger, or a receiver of a machine gun, or a combination of parts for assembling a machine gun, or a part or set of parts for converting a gun into a machine gun.

A silencer is any device for muffling the gunshot of a portable firearm, or any part or parts exclusively designed or intended for such a device.

A short barreled shotgun is any shotgun (which is defined as a shoulder fired, smooth bore firearm) with a barrel of less than 18″ or an overall length of less than 26″, or any weapon made from a shotgun falling into the same length parameters.

A short barreled rifle is a rifle (which is defined as a shoulder fired, rifled bore firearm) with a barrel length of less than 16″, or an overall length of less than 26″, or any weapon made from a rifle falling into the same length parameters (like a pistol made from a rifle).  In measuring barrel length you do it from the closed breech to the muzzle, see 27 CFR sec. 179.11.  To measure
overall length do so along, “the distance between the extreme ends of the weapon measured along a line parallel to the center line of the bore.” 27 CFR sec. 179.11.  On a folding stock weapon you measure with the stock extended, provided the stock is not readily detachable, and the weapon is meant to be fired from the shoulder.

A destructive device (DD) can be two basic categories of things. It can be an explosive, incendiary or poison gas weapon, like a bomb or grenade.  It can also be a firearm with a bore over 1/2″, with exceptions for sporting shotguns, among other things.
I call the second category large bore destructive devices.  As a general rule only this second category is commercially available.

Any other weapons (AOW’s) are a number of things; smooth bore pistols, any pistol with more than one grip, gadget type guns (cane gun, pen gun) and shoulder fired weapons with both rifled and smooth bore barrels between 12″ and 18″, that must be manually reloaded.

Sources: ATF National Firearms Act website 

Estate Planning for Single People

Single? Estate Planning is Still Essential

By Matthew T. McClintock, J.D.
Vice President, Education, WealthCounsel

These days, more people are living single than ever before. In 1970, just about one- third of Americans 15 and older were single, according to U.S. census data. Today, that number’s closer to 50 percent.

Whether never married, divorced or widowed, singles need to pay just as much attention to their estate planning as married folks, as highlighted in a recent Wall Street Journal article. Single people face unique estate planning issues that require advanced planning, time and the help of an experienced professional.

Some of the most complicated estate planning issues for singles include:

Estate Planning for Single PeopleHeirs: When married people die without a will, their assets typically pass to their spouse. But what about single people? Assets are usually distributed along bloodlines, so children (if any), followed by parents, siblings or other relatives, would be the default heirs. If a single person has no living relatives, his or her assets might wind up with the state.

To ensure their assets wind up with the relatives, loved ones and charitable organizations that they’d prefer, single people should create a will and/or an irrevocable trust that specifically states how they’d like their assets to be distributed.

Decision makers: A health event or other incident could leave any of us incapacitated. For single people, it’s important to designate a trusted loved one or friend to manage assets and health care decisions in case of an emergency. Without proper directives, those decisions could fall to distant relatives or state-appointed strangers.

Single people should sign a general power of attorney, an advance health care directive, and a HIPAA authorization allowing a loved one of choice to make financial and medical decisions on their behalf.

Beneficiaries: Certain accounts, like retirement plans, require account holders to designate a beneficiary when they enroll. That beneficiary designation is typically upheld when the account holder dies, even if he or she gave the account to someone else in a will.

Previously married or widowed singles should reevaluate all of their beneficiary designations to ensure accounts won’t be given to former spouses if that’s against their wishes.

Those are just a few of the ways estate planning can be complicated for singles. It’s wise for single people to contact an estate planning professional as soon as possible, in order to make sure all their bases are covered and their assets are distributed according to their wishes.

Suppressors Are Legal in Minnesota

Yes, Suppressors/Silencers are Legal in Minnesota

I know, I’m excited about it too. As some of you may know, Suppressors, otherwise known as silencers or cans, are now legal in the state of Minnesota as of July 1, 2015.

Suppressors Are Legal in MinnesotaWhy would anyone want a suppressor?

According to Wikipedia, “A suppressor, sound suppressor, sound moderator, or silencer is a device attached to or part of the barrel of a firearm or air gun which reduces the amount of noise and visible muzzle flash generated by firing. Suppressors are typically constructed of a metal cylinder with internal mechanisms to reduce the sound of firing by slowing the escaping propellant gas and can also slightly increase the speed of the bullet.[1][2]

A suppressor allows hunters and firearm enthusiasts to enjoy their sport with less risk of damaging their hearing. Essentially, it’s a muffler for your firearm. It does not completely eliminate the shot but it does reduce the noise to much safer levels. This is the main reason why someone would want to purchase a suppressor.

There are other benefits as well such as reduced recoil. This allows better accuracy for the shooter, especially on follow up shots which means the projectiles are more likely to hit their intended target.

How do I get a silencer?

There are a couple ways to go about getting a silencer but all of them require a Special Occupational Tax (SOT) stamp. Watch for more information coming up on our blog with details of how to go through the process and how to find the best route for you.