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Annuity or Legacy – which do you choose?

My colleague, Dennis Brislawn in Seattle, was at the Oregon Gun Show the other day and had an interesting conversation with a gun owner I wanted to share because he isn’t the only one with this question or situation.  While it was a bit morbid and sad, it was also very enlightening to give him a bit more peace in his situation.

For the sake of this story, let’s call him Jackson.

Jackson had built a collection of working guns and antiques over a lifetime of collecting, including several prized NFA firearms.  It represented a lifetime’s worth of personal effort. When we were talking, in not so many words, he said he fears he is terminally ill and not sure how much time he has left.  That is the sad part and definitely weighing heavy on his mind was the situation he could potentially be leaving his wife, Delores, in if he should die.

He expressed concern for Delores and said she has no interest in his gun collection and is concerned she may have to deal with it on his passing.  Both of them realize he has significant money tied up in his gun collection and Jackson would love to have some income to supplement Social Security and his pension.  He told me after some gentle persuasion that he also wants to leave a legacy – he wants his name remembered somehow (don’t we all).

I told him that he can do both – and that really excited him to keep talking about his situation.  I explained there is a way for him to leave income for his wife and a legacy in his or their names when both have passed.  I then told him how a gun trust with a “charitable gun annuity” could do the job.

A “charitable gun annuity” is a clever option for the commonly used charitable gift annuity.  A gun collection is contributed to a charitable gift annuity, and then the guns are sold at auction.  Most auctions trigger a 15% seller-side fee paid to the auction house and also a 15% fee paid by the buyer.  But firearms charities often have negotiated waiver of the seller-side fee… making 100% of the proceeds available to fund the annuity for his wife, which can pay her regularly for her lifetime.  Upon her death, the remainder of the annuity would be distributed to the charity to be used according to Jackson’s instructions.

Jackson did have one more interesting twist to this plan when he said, “But what if Delores dies first?”  I then explained to him that a different person could be named to receive the annuity, or he could just leave the entire amount to fund his charitable program.  Either way, this seemed like a worthy idea to him. Win-Win for both his legacy and Delores.

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