What is the purpose of an NFA Firearms Trust?
An NFA Firearms Trust is set up so that it is easier for you to acquire your NFA firearms, and protect your ability to leave to your family, NFA or Type II firearms. Advantages to an NFA Trust are significant. An NFA Trust or corporation is a separate legal entity, and is the actual purchaser of the NFA item, and not an individual. An individual is not the purchaser (transferee) on the Form 4 (NFA transfer document) so, no CLEO approval is required.
First off, there are no fingerprints taken when using an NFA Firearms Trust to acquire Title II firearms. This decreases the amount or footwork required to take possession of the items… Also, there are no photographs required, also saving time and money.
As previously mentioned, with a firearms Trust, no CLEO signature is required. Now, this is a big bonus. You are not chasing for a signature from someone who may or may not give it to you, many CLEO’s will not sign the forms! (many CLEO’s do not even recognize the form 4 from the ATF) your information is not made public, and even your local LEO’s do NOT know that you own NFA firearms. In most states, if your CLEO will not sign your Form 4 for an individual NFA application, there is no legal recourse to force a review.
Also, the issue with privacy. Individuals who submit their ATF form 4 to their CLEO are often worried about who will have direct knowledge of your NFA firearms. People have also expressed concern that they will come under excessive police scrutiny because they will be known to possess Type II firearms. With an NFA Firearms Trust, neither the CLEO nor any other member of local PD are given notification that you own NFA firearms. Basically, it is an ‘on paper’ entity. There are no yearly fees associated with an individual Trust, as with an LLC or Corporation trust.
If you unfortunately happen to become incapacitated, the NFA trust protects your family or appointed guardian from accidentally violating the NFA laws by coming in contact with NFA firearms. A trust protects them, spelling out what they can and cannot do with the firearms.
If you individually own firearms and don’t have NFA trust when you pass away, your firearms will be part of your “probate estate.” Probate proceedings are required to transfer your firearms in your will to your beneficiaries, and are part of public record. As it is usually a family member who executes your probatel proceedings upon your death, you don’t want them to inadvertently violate the NFA. With an NFA Trust, your firearms are not subject to probate proceedings or public record that individually owned items would be. Your beneficiaries can rest assured because they will receive assistance on how the items can legally be transferred to other persons. If you have children, a well written NFA Firearms Trust will have specific wording that will protect them and make sure they do not receive the NFA Trust items if they live in a state where it is unlawful to possess NFA firearms, and most importantly, that they are competent enough that you would want them to have ownership of the firearms.
With an NFA Firearms Trust, an adult child, family member, or ect. can be made a co-trustee of the trust. While the ownership of the NFA Firearms Trust can be changed, the NFA Firearms Trust is still the registered owner of the firearms and no transfer has taken place under the NFA. This ensures that upon your death, the NFA firearms are not being taken away from your family. Many people falsely believe that it is ok to let others handle or try out their NFA firearms when in their immediate presence. However, under the NFA this would consider this a unauthorized transfer and be an in violation of NFA law. If an individual purchases Title II firearms then he or she is the only one permitted to use or have access to the firearms. With an NFA Trust, this can be avoided!
If your spouse or a trusted friend knows the combination to your gun safe or vault, you may be violating the NFA restriction on letting others access or possess your NFA items and firearms. Indirect possession, though it is considered ‘constructive possession’ is a form of illegal possession, and a violation of the NFA. The smartest thing to do is to get an NFA trust! If you use an NFA Firearms Trust to acquire Title II firearms, you can designate other owners and authorized persons. You can eliminate the risk of an improper constructive possession issue with a signature authorizing said person to possess the items in question. This will help protect you and your family from the severe penalties of violating the law.
What is the difference between an NFA firearms Trust and a traditional Trust?
A LOT! There are numerous differences between a traditional trust and an NFA Firearms Trust. An NFA firearms trust is a ‘revocable trust’ in as much, the owner can change or modify who is named as part of the trust right up until they die. Traditional trusts do not instruct who can use, sell, or possess Type II weapons. If you become incapacitated, it may be necessary to sell some assets for financial reasons. This is a covered topic in an NFA Trust. An NFA Firearms trust provides information to determine if the person receiving them has legal ability to take possession of them, that the NFA firearms are legal to possess in the recipients home state, that it is ok to transfer the items, and that the successor trustee is confident that the recipient is responsible and mature enough to possess NFA firearms.
The penalties for NFA violations are severe! Each violation subjects the firearms owner to forfeiture of ALL firearms, a 10 year prison term, and up to $250,000 in fines. Do yourself a favor, contact an attorney who is familiar with NFA law, and enact an NFA firearms Trust today! Don’t give those ‘Free Trusts’ you see on the internet a second look! MANY of them are completely invalid! Although the ATF may allow a transfer into the trust, if it is later deemed ‘invalid’, you are now in violation of possessing an NFA firearm illegally! Get it done right!
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Please note that this content is not legal advice and does not constitute as an attorney / client relationship. If you need professional legal advice, please contact an qualified attorney that practices in this field.