Earlier this year, an 1886 Winchester rifle became the most expensive gun ever sold when it was bought at auction by an anonymous bidder for $1.265 million. The gun was extremely desirable to collectors because of its storied history and low serial number.
Its original owner was U.S. Army Captain Henry Ware Lawton, who traveled across the Western United States in order to capture Geronimo, a famous and ferocious Apache leader. When Geronimo surrendered, he became “the last Indian warrior to formally give in to U.S. forces and signaling the end of the Indian Wars in the Southwest.” When Lawton returned from his successful mission, he was given a gun by a friend and former Army lieutenant who was working for Winchester.
Its history alone makes this gun special, but what really sends it over the top is its low serial number: 1. That’s right, this gun was the first ever 1889 model rifle.
Not every gun owner is going to have a gun as special as the Lawton rifle, but many gun owners do have guns that are value, rare, or that they have particular plans for what they would like done with it after they die. A decade ago estate planners would have advised gun owners to put any special instructions regarding their guns in their will, but today, setting up a gun trust is probably a better idea.
Trusts are used for all kinds of estate planning purposes, and in the last few years using them to own and pass on guns has become really popular.
The way a gun trust works is fairly simple. A gun owner works with an attorney to set up a trust naming the owner and any other person the owner wants to be able to use and legally possess the owner’s guns.