In today’s ever increasing regulatory environment, having a legal structure to protect assets is critical. This is especially true for firearms and NFA items. While legal trusts have been used for years to protect and hold assets, they have recently become popular for those who own or are looking to purchase NFA firearms. These trusts often streamline the buying process and allow individuals to bypass local rules and regulations that may cause paperwork to be held up in the legal system.

Purpose of an NFA Firearms Trust

Purchasing or acquiring a title II firearm can be a complex process without a gun trust. Also known as NFA firearms, these weapons fall under Title II of the National Firearms Act. Because of this, they are generally heavily restricted for personal ownership. Federal laws and rules created by the National Firearms Act regulate the sale and transfer of all Title II firearms, which include Short Barrel Rifles, Short Barrel Shotguns, Silencers, and Fully Automatic Firearms.

Without a gun trust to legally hold title II firearms, only the individual who has applied for and been approved for their NFA tax stamp can legally transport and possess the weapon. What this means is that friends, family, children or even your spouse will not be allowed to use your weapons without your direct supervision. Use of your weapons without your oversight can put them in violation of federal law. However, with a gun trust individuals will be given the flexibility to add or remove individuals from the trust, which will affect who has legal access to those weapons.

To legally own a Title II weapon, the ATF must give its approval. This approval comes in the form of a tax stamp, which gets affixed to one of the forms that you send to the ATF requesting permission to own the weapon. Once that tax stamp is returned affixed to your documentation, your Title II firearm can be transferred into your gun trust.

Benefits of a Gun Trust

There are many benefits of having a properly written trust that is specific to firearms. One of these is that the trust is specifically designed for the firearms owned by the grantor. As part of the trust process, grantors are given the power to add or remove trustees as they see fit during their lifetime. These trustees are then responsible for the administration of the trust and the handling of the firearms held by the trust.

Any co-trustee designated in the trust can possess and use any of the restricted firearms held in the trust so long as they satisfy the stringent requirements set forth by law and are not a prohibited person. The grantor of the trust can add and remove individuals as trustee, allowing or disallowing them from having access to these firearms. Our trusts allow for the designation of successor trustees: individuals who take over control of your weapons should anything happen to you.

An additional benefit of a gun trust is that it can hold onto any type of firearm, including non-NFA weapons. This provides a smooth process for transferring ownership after the principals death as trusts fall outside of probate, allowing their family to avoid the costly and time-consuming process of changing title to property. and allows your trustees to immediately transfer the guns to your designated beneficiaries, so long as they are qualified under law.

Without a gun trust, only the individual who registers for the Title II firearm can use and possess that firearm. This has even been interpreted that merely giving another person (i.e. a spouse) unsupervised access to these firearms constitutes constructive possession and can result in hefty fines or jail time.

With an NFA Gun Trust, you can also decide who you want to inherit your firearms after your death. Further, Gun Trusts are private documents. Nobody, with the exception of your Trustees and Beneficiaries, will know what weapons are held in the trust. Wills, on the other hand, are public documents and easily accessible by anyone once you die.

Hiring a Gun Trust Attorney

Many are tempted to fall for the simple “do-it-yourself” trusts found online. However, these trusts often lack even the most basic language required to ensure the document protects you, your family, and your weapons. Our trusts are drafted by attorneys who specialize in estates and trusts with extensive knowledge about the National Firearms Act, the revised ATF Rule 41F, and your rights as a gun owner. If you are in need of a trust for the purchasing and holding of your firearms, please contact our office today to see how we can help.