NFA & Gun Trusts

SAMSUNGA note on why I draft gun trusts for my clients. I thought long and hard about whether I should do my gun trust business on a different website and under a different trade name than the ones I use for my estate and business planning law practice. I’ve noticed that many attorneys separate their gun trust work from their other practice areas for fear, I suppose, that they might scare off potential clients who are not interested in or even loathe firearms.

I decided to do all my business using the same website and trade name. Here’s why:

I draft gun trusts for two basic reasons:

1. Gun laws are complicated. Guns are assets, property that must be handled properly and carefully when the owner dies or becomes incapacitated. This is so because guns are regulated property and are therefore unlike virtually any other property people own. Violate one of the laws or regulations governing the transfer or possession of firearms–even unintentionally–and you or your executor or trustee could be in a fix. As an attorney who holds himself out as an estate planner, I feel an obligation to be knowledgable about and able to help my clients manage their firearms in their estate plans so my clients don’t find themselves in that fix. Moreover, since I represent clients in both Wyoming and Utah, this approach seems like a sensible plan to me.

2. Gun trusts promote safety. Gun trusts provide an extra layer of safety to gun owners and those who succeed them in ownership and therefore to the public. A trustee of a gun trust assumes a special or fiduciary obligation under the law when they manage firearms in a trust. The trusts that good attorneys draft make the parameters of that obligation crystal clear. The result, I believe, is better informed gun owners and improved public safety. If that’s actually the case, it only makes sense to draft gun trusts.

That said, I offer three different, reasonably priced, planning options for firearms trusts:

Bronze Plus Trust ($250) – a basic trust designed specifically to hold your NFA or Title II firearms (suppressors, short-barreled shotguns and rifles, etc.). It allows for and provides a mechanism for naming successor trustees and remainder beneficiaries.

Silver Trust ($500) – works great for the purchase of NFA or Title II firearms, but it is also more flexible and makes it possible for you to share both your Title I (pistols, shotguns, and rifles) and NFA/Title II (suppressors, short-barrel rifles and shotguns, etc.) firearms without committing an “accidental felony.” To this end, the Silver Trust provides for multiple trustees, contains specific instructions to the trustee(s) on how to handle and transfer your firearms (again, to avoid the “accidental felony”), and directs the ultimate distribution of your firearms upon your death.

Gold Trust (price varies, depending on complexity) – does what the Bronze Plus and Silver Trusts do and more, including planning for multi-generational and multi-state situations as well as providing options for those with charitable inclinations.

Because they are more complex and comprehensive trusts, both the Silver and Gold Trusts require more attorney involvement than the Bronze Plus Trust. To initiate the drafting process for your firearms trust, contact us and state which trust you prefer. We will send you the appropriate intake form, so you can provide us the necessary information to begin.

Go here for further reading on trusts for guns in general and for NFA firearms in particular.

UPDATE: AFT 41F–the BATFE’s new rules governing NFA firearms in general and the use of trusts and other entities to purchase those items in particular–was published in the Federal Register on January 15, 2015. Those rules become effective on July 13, 2016. Until that date, the trusts below will continue to serve their stated purpose. On or before that July 13th date, I will make changes to each trust, as necessary, to minimize the impact of 41F on clients of this firm. Of course, if you are a client, I will inform you of those changes.

As I state elsewhere on this site, a grantor/trustee of an NFA trust is obviously a so-called “responsible person” under the new rules and therefore required to provide a photo, fingerprints, and CLEO notification for each NFA transaction they initiate on or after July 13, 2016.  So, probably, are most, if not all, co-trustees (though there is some discussion about ways to avoid this). Beneficiaries and successor trustees of our current trusts should not be responsible persons under the new rules and so won’t have to provide that information. I am awaiting further clarification on the grey area in between, the area occupied by special trustees, trust protectors, and the like. I’ll keep you posted as we learn more.

As also stated elsewhere on this site, I continue to believe that trusts remain an excellent and, in the vast majority of cases, the best option for purchasing NFA items, especially if your goal is to not only buy NFA items but to ensure that they are handled correctly and safely by you and those you share your firearms with.

That said, please continue reading about our NFA trusts by clicking on the drop-down menu above.

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