How NFA Trusts Work
NFA gun trusts are one of the most popular ways to buy suppressors and other NFA items, as well as to make them on an ATF Form 1. An NFA gun trust offers unique legal benefits and efficiency. However, like with many legal documents, people sometimes get confused about NFA gun trusts, so we are going to take the mystery out of them and lay it out in a simple fashion.
What is an NFA Gun Trust?
A trust is a legal tool for holding and transferring assets. Because NFA items have to be registered to a legal entity, many people choose to put them into a trust for various reasons. At one time it was a common workaround for a now-obsolete rule.
That rule required a local chief of police or sheriff to sign off on an application to make or buy an NFA item. Without that signature, the ATF would not approve the NFA item. However, such signoff was not required for a trust or corporation, and NFA trusts were sometimes the only way to acquire NFA devices.
That rule is now obsolete and the ATF no longer requires local law enforcement approval to acquire NFA items. So why should you still use an NFA gun trust? Well, that’s a good question…
Why Use an NFA Gun Trust?
Two simple words explain why you should get an NFA gun trust: estate planning. Oh, there are other ones we’ll get to in a moment, but this is a biggy.
You see, the nature of NFA items can make them difficult for your heirs to deal with. However, a trust allows near seamless transfer of ownership and registration to your heirs after your death. No other tool exists for such easy transfer of NFA items. But of course there are more reasons.
The ATF tends to process registrations in the name of trusts faster. Why, nobody knows. Probably because they are the most common application and thus prioritized. That alone is a good reason to use them.
NFA gun trusts are also a great way to allow family and close friends access to your NFA items. NFA trusts for suppressors are especially popular for this reason. You can put multiple people on a trust, which legally allows them to use an NFA item like a suppressor without you being physically present. In other words, if you want to let somebody borrow your suppressor and take it hunting, you can do that by putting them on your trust.
This doesn’t impact estate planning, as many people can be on a trust, but only one can be designated to take ownership after death. So as you can see, there are a lot of advantages to NFA trusts, from estate planning, to faster processing, to allowing family and friends access to your NFA items.
How Much Does an NFA Gun Trust Cost?
Trusts are interesting documents. At their core they are legal concepts that vary from state to state. Each state has different trust law, and trusts have to be written to comply with those laws and be satisfactory to the ATF. That means the first time you draft one, you are probably paying a lawyer for a few hours of time.
Now it’s true there’s a good bit of boilerplate that goes into a trust. Still, it has to be customized the first time around. After a generic NFA gun trust is written, then the language can be used again and again by anyone in that state.
This means two things. First, creating a trust can cost up to a few hundred dollars in lawyer time. And after that, the created trust can be copied and sold to many different people. And here is where things get interesting…
How to Set up a Gun Trust
There are basically three approaches for NFA gun trusts:
- Free trusts given by NFA dealers and manufacturers with the purchase of a product. This is a popular marketing tool to attract customers who may not already have a trust. Silencer Central offers a free NFA gun trust, which we’ll talk more about later.
- Low-priced boilerplate trusts. Here, an attorney has created a boilerplate NFA gun trust for your state and sells it again and again at a reasonable price. This is a win/win for everyone. The attorney gets a really nice profit margin and gun owners get access to a trust at a fraction of the cost of having one drawn up specifically for them.
- High-priced boilerplate trusts. This is perhaps the most predatory and expensive way of buying a trust. These trusts are just like the ones above, but marketed in breathless terms that take advantage of people’s confusion about trusts and NFA law. Some law firms suggest that without their very high priced trusts, people risk midnight raids for improperly owned NFA items. Or, they’ll say that NFA gun trusts are such arcane things that they are nearly impossible to get right, and that one risks criminal liability without this particular trust.
These are all patently untrue, but unscrupulous people will sell a trust for many hundreds of dollars by preying on the fearful and uninformed. There is simply no reason to give in to such marketing when the first two options are available for any American and any competent attorney can write one up for a fraction of the cost.
As you can see there are two practical ways and one impractical way to get an NFA trust. If you plan to just use a Form 1 and make your own NFA items or your NFA dealer doesn’t offer a free trust, buying a ready made one makes a lot of sense.
Otherwise, if you are buying a silencer or other NFA item from Silencer Central or somebody else who offers a free NFA gun trust, by all means take advantage of that! But avoid people selling trusts who use scare tactics and slick talk to justify spending hundreds of dollars on a trust.
Single Shot NFA Trust
Most NFA gun trusts are designed to accommodate multiple items and multiple trustees. That’s why drafting one from scratch can be expensive. However, when the ATF implemented a new rule in 2017, things got both more complex and more simple for owners of NFA items.
You see, trusts can allow the addition or removal of trustees on the fly. You literally can pencil or erase trustees. However, the ATF now requires ALL trustees for NFA items to submit fingerprints and photo identification information. That makes it harder to add trustees and adds another layer of annoyance to the already annoying world of NFA item ownership.
But, to use a clickbait phrase, there is one weird trick discovered by a lawyer in their garage (not really) that the ATF hates (well, again not really, it’s just a neat loophole).
You see, if you have ONE trust with MANY NFA items on it, you have to do the whole fingerprint/photo ID thing for each and every trustee.
But if you have ONE trust for EACH DIFFERENT NFA item you have, then you can add and remove trustees as you wish without additional ATF oversight. Weird, isn’t it?
Weird but legal, and that’s all we care about. Sure, they are a pain if you own more than one NFA item, but so is submitting identifying information for all your family and friends that you want to have access to an NFA item. Only you can decide which route is best for you.
NFA Gun Trust Form
An NFA gun trust form is just another fancy way of saying “NFA gun trust.” You need to get a trust through one of the prior mentioned means in order to get your trust setup. Then you can proceed with using it to buy or build whatever NFA items you can afford and get approved by the ATF.
NFA Gun Trusts for Suppressors
NFA trusts for suppressors are very popular for two reasons. One, you have to register suppressors, and trusts are more efficient for NFA item ownership than any other form of registration.
Second, there are a lot of semi-finished suppressor kits on the market right now that exist in a legal gray area. Sure, we’d prefer to sell you one of our affordable, high quality suppressors like the all-titanium, user serviceable BANISH Suppressor, but some folks really like the DIY approach.
That means, a lot of folks opt to use an ATF Form 1 and their NFA gun trust to build a suppressor at home, either using the “solvent trap” kits or, if they are skilled enough, machining one themselves. And because an e-filed Form 1 is currently taking about two months to approve, NFA gun trusts are quite popular for suppressors.
The Silencer Central Gun Trust
Silencer Central is your single best choice for buying a suppressor. We offer many advantages no other silencer dealer can. Here are a few examples:
- Locations in all 42 silencer legal states.
- A unique, ATF-approved direct mailing program. That’s right! You can buy a silencer from us without ever having to visit one of our show tables or locations.
- Absolutely free NFA gun trust. As ironclad and efficient as any top dollar trust, we spend enormous sums of money to have trusts drafted for every silencer legal state. These trusts would cost you $250 or more to have written up on your own, but we include one absolutely free when you buy a silencer from us. There is no quicker and easier way to get a silencer and gun trust at the same time!
Gun trusts don’t have to be confusing or expensive. No matter if you buy one from a reputable law firm specializing in firearms law, have one custom drafted for you, or take advantage of Silencer Central’s absolutely free gun trust, they are the number one way to register NFA items with the ATF, to make your own NFA items, and to protect your estate’s assets.