NFA Gun Trusts
Certain guns and accessories are regulated by the National Firearms Act (“NFA”). They are sometimes referred to as Title II firearms, and include fully automatic and select fire weapons, short-barreled rifles and shotguns and silencers.
It can also include items you don’t expect. A .22 Derringer is a common pistol, but paired with a wallet holster becomes an NFA weapon.
NFA firearms can be lawfully owned as long as they are permitted under state law and Missouri allows ownership. However, you must 1) pay a $200 tax; 2) obtain consent from the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (or “CLEO”). Many CLEO’s are reluctant or refuse to sign the consent for various reasons, including fear of potential liability. If the CLEO refuses to sign, there is virtually no recourse.
An NFA Gun Trust gives you a significant advantage in obtaining an NFA firearm, because you don’t have to get the consent of the CLEO. No local approval is required, so you can often obtain the firearm more quickly with an NFA Gun Trust.
An NFA Gun Trust also allows for easier and more private transfer of NFA firearms and any guns to your family members if you die or become disabled. That is because assets in a trust pass directly to your beneficiaries outside of probate.
Ordinary estate planning trusts should not be used to acquire and hold NFA firearms because they do not contain special provisions that deal with firearms. For example, ordinary trusts do not give the trustee the powers needed to deal with NFA weapons and with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Enforcement (“BATFE”). The trustee must also determine whether a beneficiary is a “disqualified person” under state and federal law and which laws apply.
Running afoul of the NFA can subject you to fines of up to $250,000 and 10 years in prison. The weapons must also be forfeited. With an NFA Gun Trust, the trustee receives instruction in the terms of the trust to avoid violating the NFA.
Under federal law, an NFA firearm can never be handled or transported by anyone other than the registered owner. Many owners of NFA firearms don’t realize they are breaking the law every time they allow someone other than them to handle the weapon. With an NFA Gun Trust, the firearms can be used by any trustee of the trust. Anyone who is a trustee can legally handle or transport the firearms and trustees can be added or resign at any time.
When you pass away, firearms ordinarily become part of your probate estate and are dealt with by the probate court. With an NFA Gun Trust, you not only can avoid probate, but you can keep your privacy intact because there is no probate estate to be opened.
In the past, some people have used corporations and LLCs to acquire NFA firearms. However, you have ongoing fees and tax returns to file with this method. It’s expensive and overly complicated. After you have created an NFA Gun Trust, there are no additional fees, and unlike a corporation or LLC, a trust is completely private.
How can Legacy Law Center help?
Our firm can advise you whether an NFA Gun Trust is right for you and will draft all of the trust documents, assists you with signing them and can even assist with the federal paperwork for obtaining the NFA weapon of your choice.