Texas Gun Trusts: Everything You Need to Know
It seems like gun trusts are everywhere these days. You can’t go into an online forum or physical gun shop where they deal with silencers or other more heavily regulated items and not hear someone talking about gun trusts. There’s a lot of lingo that gets thrown around pertaining to trusts: grantor, settlor, trustee, responsible person, revocable, irrevocable, and more.
Deciding whether or not to use a gun trust is just one of the many important decisions that must be made when it comes to buying a suppressor. So what, exactly, is a gun trust? Why do they matter, and how did they get so popular? We’ll cover all of that and more in this article.
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What is a Gun Trust?
A gun trust is a legal entity that has special rules and provisions built into it that ensure the trustee and beneficiaries of the trust do not violate the National Firearms Act (NFA). Violating federal gun laws, even by accident, could result in loss of firearms, a prison term of up to 10 years, and fines up to $10,000.
Gun trusts are sometimes called NFA Trusts because they are most often used when it comes to items that are subject to the NFA. Firearms that are subject to the restrictions and laws of the NFA include short-barreled rifles (SBRs), suppressors, machine guns, and short-barreled shotguns (SBSs).
How Gun Trusts Work
A gun trust is a revocable trust created to hold title to your firearms and other NFA-regulated items. Because the trust is a legal entity, it becomes the legal owner of the guns or other items that are either transferred to or originally purchased by the trust.
However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have control over your guns and accessories. The person who creates the trust is called the grantor or settlor, and the items within it are ones that they have purchased through the trust for their own use and specific people of their choosing.
Usually, this person is named to manage the trust for the trust’s other authorized users and beneficiaries. Because the trust is revocable, the grantor can make changes to, or even void entirely, the trust agreement at any time before the grantor’s death. This includes adding and subtracting people from the list of trustees. When the grantor dies, the trust becomes irrevocable, and an alternate trustee manages the trust for the individuals who become the beneficiaries after the grantor passes away.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Gun Trusts
As with all things related to firearms and the law, there are advantages and disadvantages to using gun trusts. We’ll take a look at some of each to help you decide what might be best for you.
Advantages of Using a Gun Trust
NFA items have their own set of special legal rules that apply to them, and things can get real complicated real quick when life (or death) gets in the way. If you’ve got a gun trust set up, it can help mitigate and guide how things unfold when it comes to those items.
- Items can be used by multiple people
- Because of the highly regulated nature of NFA items, you cannot simply loan a suppressor to a friend or family member to go to the range or take it hunting unless you are there with that person. If, however, that person is a named trustee, then they are free to possess and use the item for as long as the grantor of the trust keeps that person on the trust. There’s also no cap on how many people can be named in a trust. It can be as few as one or as many as you want – and no, they do not have to be related to you.
- Avoid the probate process
- When someone dies, their estate and its property go through probate court to determine the final distribution of the deceased’s assets. When a gun trust’s grantor dies, items contained within it pass directly to the beneficiaries of the trust, outside of the traditional probate process. This doesn’t eliminate ATF involvement and knowledge of who now owns the items, but it does make the process a lot simpler.
- Confiscation protection
- If the trust’s grantor is deemed incompetent for any reason, then a co-trustee can take possession of the items within the trust on your behalf. It is then up to you to decide if the items will remain in the trust or be sold and have the proceeds returned to you. The alternative to this would be that your NFA items would be confiscated since there was no one else who had been legally designated to possess the items.
Disadvantages of Using a Gun Trust
If we’re being completely honest, there really aren’t many disadvantages to using a gun trust. Instead, there are just a few things to consider and keep in mind. They’re not really disadvantages in our view, but they aren’t advantages either, so this is where they’re being categorized.
- You’ll do more paperwork
- Since a trust is a legal document, it requires more paperwork than you would encounter with a purchase as an individual. It’s usually not much, but it’s something to take into consideration both during the application process and down the road when it comes to keeping track of all your NFA-related paperwork.
- It’s not a fast track to approval
- Some people mistakenly think that a gun trust allows them to sidestep some of the more unpleasant parts of the NFA, namely the $200 tax stamp and the extended waiting period. Unfortunately, this is not true. If the only reason for wanting a trust was for this purpose, then perhaps setting up a trust isn’t right for you. Unfortunately, setting up a gun trust is not going to give you an advantage, either in terms of time or money, when it comes to buying an NFA item.
- Smile and get inked
- It used to be that other trustees named within the trust didn’t have to submit photos and fingerprints. However, this changed a few years ago. So again, if your only reason for wanting to set up a trust was to avoid these steps for your trustees, then you may want to reevaluate your options.
How to Set Up a Gun Trust
Unless you’re a lawyer, there’s a good chance that you don’t completely understand all of the “legal-ese” that goes into setting up a gun trust – and that’s perfectly fine. No one expects their car mechanic to know how to do open heart surgery either.
Instead, the best way to set up a trust is to have a lawyer or another company with experience in setting up trusts (like us) do it for you. In this scenario, the actual legwork required by you is minimal. You decide the name of the trust, who will be included in it, what items will be included in it (you can put non-NFA guns in here, too), and then sign off on all the paperwork, get fingerprinted, have your photo taken, and submit it all to the ATF.Learn More
Buying a Silencer with a Gun Trust
The process of buying a silencer with a gun trust is basically the exact same as buying a silencer as an individual. The only real difference is the legal designation of the owner, which would be the trust and not a single person. Instead of listing your name, you’ll see the name of the trust, and you’ll be the trust’s grantor and will be named as one of the people who are legally able to possess and use the suppressor. Usually, trusts use the grantor’s last name, so it would be “The [Last Name] Trust.”
Other than that, it’s standard NFA business as usual. You still have to submit fingerprints and photos, complete the paperwork, pay for the tax stamp, and wait.
Do I Need a Trust to Purchase a Silencer?
No, you do not need a gun trust to purchase a silencer. Because trusts aren’t one-size-fits-all, they may not be right for every potential buyer. As a result, plenty of silencers are sold each and every year that are registered in the name of the individual owner. One option isn’t necessarily better than the other – just different.
Whether you use a trust or not has zero impact on your actual purchase of the silencer. It doesn’t make it cost any more or less and it doesn’t add or subtract any meaningful amount of paperwork to an already cumbersome process.
What’s the Cost of a Gun Trust in Texas?
The cost of a gun trust in Texas varies widely. It can be as little as nothing (we offer ours for free; more on that in the following section below) or it can cost a few hundred dollars.
There are a lot of websites online that offer to set up trusts for you and their costs are all over the place. The same goes for using an in-person attorney to set up a gun trust. The cost will vary from attorney to attorney.
Is one really better than the other because you paid more for it? Well, that’s up to you to determine.
Take the First Step Toward Your Free NFA Gun Trust
If you’ve decided that using a gun trust is the right way to go for you, that’s great! If you’ve also decided that more money doesn’t equal more quality, then that’s even better because Silencer Central offers free NFA gun trusts. Our trust was drafted by an attorney, is valid in all 50 states, and can be issued in all 42 states where suppressor ownership is currently legal.
Our gun trust is a 20+-page document that allows you to add unlimited co-trustees to also use your silencers or other NFA items. The best part is that we offer this gun trust FREE if you purchase a silencer from Silencer Central. That’s a $249 savings right off the bat! We also help ensure you completed the gun trust correctly so that the ATF does not have any reason to reject it. We have completed more than 15,000 trusts for countless thousands more suppressors, with more being done each and every day! Give us a call to get started on your silencer purchase and to help set up your trust.Learn More