Gun Trusts?

This is a discussion on Gun Trusts? within the Reference & "How To" Forum forums, part of the Related Topics category; As part of our overall estate planning, I would like to add a firearm trust which seems to make getting a Class III stamp easier ...

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  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array kapnketel's Avatar
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    Gun Trusts?

    As part of our overall estate planning, I would like to add a firearm trust which seems to make getting a Class III stamp easier and faster. Has anyone done this and how did it work? were you able to do it yourself with some of the estate planning software out there or did you need an attorney? How about legal Zoom?
    I'd rather be lucky than good any day

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    VIP Member Array Smitty901's Avatar
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    Why would you put them on paper?
    I have 3 children and 4 Grand children. While I am not planning on checking out yet the firearms have been settled long ago. And it is not a part of our will .
    Once I am dead every bit of paper work the may or may not have followed these fire arms goes with me in the ground or the fire but they will no longer have a trail of any kind.
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    Distinguished Member Array airslot's Avatar
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    I would like to add a firearm trust which seems to make getting a Class III stamp easier and faster.
    Why would you put them on paper?
    If the guns and any NFA items are in a trust, they pass to the surviving named persons in the trust without any more taxes or paperwork. It (the trust) also eliminates the signature requirement of your chief LEO from the ATF application.
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    VIP Member Array Crowman's Avatar
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    What do you think of this idea...

    Say someone has a grandchild age 13 and they are age 69. Grandpa signs over ownership of all his firearms to the grandchild now however grandpa "maintains and holds" such firearms. Then when grandpa goes to the big gun range(with the endless supply of ammo) in the sky there are no weapons to deal with hence no government paperwork.
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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty901 View Post
    Why would you put them on paper?
    I have 3 children and 4 Grand children. While I am not planning on checking out yet the firearms have been settled long ago. And it is not a part of our will .
    Once I am dead every bit of paper work the may or may not have followed these fire arms goes with me in the ground or the fire but they will no longer have a trail of any kind.
    I believe the OP is referring to class 3 Items such as SBR's Suppressors,and transferable machine guns.So anybody claiming they ain't leaving a paper trail might work with standard fireaerms,but not with class 3 stuff since the government has the paperwork,what a trust does is allow anybody on the trust to possess any of the class 3 items,if somebody dies they don't have to go thru the BS of getting a CLO to sign off on the Form 4 to purchase the class 3 item and pay another tax stamp
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    IMO, if you want a Class 3 item, a Trust is the way to go. Talk to a lawyer who does them regularly.
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    Another vote for the trust.

    Its easier and quicker for the NFA items. For one, you dont have to get fingerprints or a CLEO signoff, you dont need a photograph, you just fill out the front of the Form 4 and send it.
    You still have to pay the 200 tax stamp, but as already mentioned, anyone that is listed on the trust can legally possess that item,otherwise only the owner of the NFA item could possess it. One could shoot it as long as the NFA owner was there, but it must be under immediate control of the owner.

    The Trust eliminates this. You could list your kids, friends,cousins, uncles,ex girlfriends, aunts or whoever you wanted on the trust and they could legally possess that item. They could shoot it, tote it, stash it, do whatever they wanted to with it as long as it was listed and "owned" by the trust.


    Most lawyers in this area charge anywere from 300-600 bucks for a Trust. If you are going to get into the the NFA world, in my opinion it is the best way to do it. The ATF has had some issues with online Trust Programs,so just to be safe, I'd choose a lawyer to make sure all of my bases are covered.
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    Distinguished Member Array kapnketel's Avatar
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    Thanks, I was leaning lawyer and just incorporate a NFA trust into our larger estate planning process.
    I'd rather be lucky than good any day

    There's nothing that will change someone's moral outlook quicker than cash in large sums.

    Majority rule only works if you're also considering individual rights. Because you can't have five wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for supper.

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    With all the bans going on in various states, it might not be bad to have more than just your NFAs on your trust. I also have a trust as the beneficiary to my insurance so if I die my ex can't get ahold of my money. My lawyer did mine, but he mostly works for gusmithing and guns in trade so I'm not sure what the actual dollar cost is. I know my upcoming custody fight with my ex is going to cost about a PMR30 and a Huntertown can.
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    Hrm... I used Quicken WillMaker to set up mine and the ATF signed off on it and sent the stamp.
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    As an aside, I am going to set up a Trust to hold all of my guns, ammo and prohibited magazines, now that Colorado has become a $%^)(*&^%!@# Damnorat mess. As long as you're doing the estate planning, it'd be easy to incorporate.
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    Distinguished Member Array Jaeger's Avatar
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    Packinnova, that's fine, but I would still have an attorney look over your handiwork. The NFA trust isn't part of the public record, which is why the firearms or NFA controlled items in it don't go to probate when you die.

    The ATF is not doing a legal review of the trust you created, or signing off on the legality of your trust in any way. All they're doing is acknowledging legal ownership of the NFA items to the trust. If the trust doesn't EXACTLY conform to both the federal AND your state's regulations it could very well be declared invalid in court, in which case you would be in violation of the NFA, and that means time in a federal prison if you're caught with them. This is not a DIY operation, or something you want the family attorney to learn about while doing. You need an attorney who specializes in NFA Trusts, because the stakes are simply to high to risk a serious federal felony.

    Mine cost me about a grand, but that's only because its tied in to another revocable trust, and there was a lot more review and additional language required. They cost about $600 dollars and are a collaboration with an attorney in your state. Do it right, or don't do it at all.

    I beg you, don't fool around with this stuff. This is not something where you can go cheap and cross your fingers. If you don't want to spend the money put the NFA items directly in your name, because an NFA Trust that isn't right is like strapping a time bomb to your head. The ATF isn't your friend, and they will come after you with bells on if they decide to investigate you and supina your trust as part of a case against you. Their lawyers will consider it their job to poke holes in it and invalidate it.
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    Distinguished Member Array BlueNinjaGo's Avatar
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    I just started the process today with a lawyer in my state. I don't trust template forms or cookie-cutter programs. I want a lawyer that has experience to make sure I do things 100% correctly.

    There are several nuances about setting up trusts for NFA items that some lawyers/programs may overlook.

    Gun Trusts ? Buyer Beware and other sites have some insight.


    Honestly, I'd rather pay the extra money ($300 total) for the peace of mind.
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    Armed for the Future: Gun Trusts Help Owners Legally Pass Down Firearms
    By RACHEL EMMA SILVERMAN
    Who gets the guns after you're gone?

    Lawyers say a growing number of firearms owners are creating special gun trusts, which are designed to allow collectors to share and pass down firearms to loved ones without inadvertently breaking any laws. The trusts also make it easier for gun enthusiasts to procure certain restricted firearms, such as suppressors, because of a quirk in federal regulations.

    Interest in these trusts is growing, lawyers say, after a series of recent mass shootings brought responsible gun ownership into the national conversation. That's because gun trusts, if drafted properly, may offer gun owners and their heirs some protection from future laws placing restrictions on gun ownership, they say.

    "What's happening recently has really changed the landscape" of firearms planning, says David Goldman, a Jacksonville, Fla., lawyer, who helps clients set up gun trusts.

    Even without the specter of stricter gun-control legislation, however, a complex patchwork of federal and state gun laws makes it easy for gun owners and their families to get into legal trouble when transferring or taking possession of firearms, especially restricted ones. A gun owner, for example, may not realize that an heir who is a legal medical marijuana user may be prohibited from owning a firearm under federal law. Creating a trust, a legal entity that holds the guns and is managed by a trustee (typically the gun owner) for beneficiaries, can help owners properly navigate this thicket of rules.

    Having a trust is "a responsible way of owning a firearm," says Mr. Goldman. It "provides a set of rules for how you want your assets to be managed during your life, and in the event of your incapacity and beyond," he says.

    Meanwhile, because of a legal loophole, collectors can buy certain restricted firearms, such as machine guns and short-barreled rifles, through trusts without having to get the approval of a local law-enforcement officer, like individual buyers do. Many gun trusts, in fact, are created for this purpose, says Dennis Brislawn, a Kirkland, Wash., lawyer who has drafted hundreds of gun trusts for clients.

    A spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the federal agency enforcing gun laws, says that applications to transfer restricted firearms to trusts or corporations has grown rapidly in recent years, to 39,354 last year from 26,376 a year earlier. He says the agency is reviewing a proposal to make firearms purchased through trusts subject to the same requirements as guns bought by individuals.

    Setting up a gun trust can range from several hundred dollars to about $2,500 in lawyers' fees. Online gun-trust forms can be purchased for less than $100, but users should make sure they are compliant with federal and state laws.





    The Benefits of a Gun Trust

    by Charles M. Britt, III

    An increasing number of gun owners, with help from attorneys, are creating legal trusts to buy silencers, fully-automatic machine guns, or any other items or weapon whose sale is restricted by federal gun law, otherwise known as the National Firearms Act “NFA”— this legal entity subverts the requirement to obtain local law enforcement approval or even undergo criminal background checks. This trust goes around much of the red tape and problems associated with personal ownership of NFA weapons.

    These gun trusts allow the owners of the regulated firearms to use and share them legally with family members and to pass them down through the generations. These trust are gaining in number because they offer legal protection from potential future laws which may ban the possession or sale of the firearms.

    Specific benefits:

    Local Sheriff or Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) Sign Off Not Required – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF or BATF) mandate that individuals get the approval of the CLEO of the county where you live does not apply to NFA gun trusts. Many local sheriffs refuse to sign off on the purchase for various reasons which makes buying a NFA weapon almost impossible for an individual. A class 3 NFA trust works around that problem.

    Fingerprint Cards Not Required – For an individual, the BATF requires two sets of fingerprint cards to go withForm 4 transfers. This requirement doesn’t apply to a NFA gun trust.

    Owner Photograph Not Required – An individual is required to provide a photograph with the application, again doesn’t apply to a gun trust.

    Continuity of Ownership – as like most trusts, unless the items in the trust are sold by the trustee, the items belongs to the trust as long as the trust exists. Usually, a trust runs 70 years. A gun trust can set out the division of property just like a will, but the assets remain legally in the trust for generations.

    Continuity, Scope, and Mutuality of Class 3 Weapon Possession – A NFA firearm trust can allow various people to possess and use Class 3 weapons owned by the trust. Multiple trustees can be named who have the authority to possess the trust's assets. Those persons and beneficiaries can be designated at the outset of the trust or added or deleted at a later date. Without a trust, the individual owner, and no one else, can possess or use the Class 3 weapon. There is no requirement to transfer the gun trust assets upon the death or legal incapacity of a trustee or beneficiary. You also avoid the need to file a Form 4 transfer and pay the $200 federal tax.

    Confidentiality - The gun trust is not filed with any state or municipal government or other law enforcement entity, except the BATF. If gun trust buys a NFA Class 3 weapon, a copy of the trust itself must be filed with Form 4. But, your trust and your name only show up on the tax rolls of the BATF. Since it is a tax related filing, it is exempt from most subpoenas and public records requests.

    No Filing Fees – Since nothing is filed with any government bureaucracy, there are no filing fees to be paid for someone to copy and file it in a government database.

    Insurance – As it stands right now, an NFA Class 3 weapons trust is you best protection to buy and later sell or transfer those weapons as assets for generations to come. What laws that may come in the future will probably not affect trust already in existence.

    Protection – not from criminals, but from the government. A gun trust can be written to insulate your loved ones in case they accidentally possess an NFA weapon that is not registered to them personally.

    Speed of Registration - A properly written NFA gun trust can speed up the registration process significantly and allow you to obtain Class 3 items before new laws take effect.

    Background Check Not Required- while most Class 3 dealers do it anyway, there is no requirement of a background check when an NFA gun trust is used.
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    Distinguished Member Array Jaeger's Avatar
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    I frequent a gun shop that has some Tactical Tommy guys who know more about firearms than I care to ever know. They're a class III dealer and have a big clientele to whom they sell NFA firearms and do high dollar machinegun events. They had many opinions about NFA trusts which they were more than willing to share.

    Great. They know a lot about guns and sell a lot of machine guns, but they're not qualified or equipped to give out legal advice. A screwdriver will work as a chisel if you don't have a chisel, you don't care about the screwdriver, and whatever you're chiseling isn't terribly important. This is very important. You don't hire a plumber to put in a pool, even though they understand how it works. You don't hire a cop to be your attorney, even though they know allot about the law. I'm in a field where I know allot about the law too, but I DON'T give out legal advice, AT ALL. Before I say anything pertaining to it I disqualify my opinion immediately, and advise they seek competent council. That doesn't mean just getting an attorney, but one that specializes in whatever it is we're talking about.

    This has saved me and my clients on multiple occasions, and fortunately for me it's one of the few things that I didn't have to find out the hard way. Something like this..., the hard way shouldn't be an option.

    I did learn that they're now demanding a copy of the trust even though it isn't recorded. That may help things out, because at least they're doing some sort of review, though I would not want to rely on the goodwill of the ATF given their sordid history. They're not a judge either. They don't have the power to say a document is legal or not, and to me that's like letting the fox guard the chickens.

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