Trusts gained popularity in the 1970s as an estate planning device, with several advantages over a Last Will and Testament. In more recent years, they have become a popular way to purchase items regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934, such as sound suppressors (or silencers), short-barreled rifles and shotguns, and fully-automatic firearms.
To legally buy or make an NFA item, you must submit ATF Form 4 (to buy) or ATF Form 1 (to make) to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE), pay a tax of $200 per item, and wait for BATFE to approve the form. If the item is legal to own in your state, and you are legally able to own a firearm at all, BATFE must approve the form. However, to apply as an individual, there's an additional hurdle: You must submit fingerprints, a passport photo, and have your Chief Law Enforcement Officer sign your application. Many people experience difficulty obtaining this signature, or simply don't want their police chief or sheriff to know what they own.
This can be avoided by applying as a legal entity, such as a corporation, limited liability company (LLC), or trust. A legal entity can buy or make NFA items without submitting fingerprint cards, photos, or a law enforcement signature. A legal entity can also apply to make an NFA item using BATFE's eForms service (https://www.atfonline.gov/EForms/), resulting in much faster processing than paper forms (Form 4, used to transfer NFA items, is not currently available on the eForms system).
A trust, in most cases, is the preferred form of legal entity for this purpose. Corporations and LLCs usually have ongoing filing and tax requirements, though this varies from state to state. A trust has no ongoing requirements of this sort. A trust will also allow you to name the individuals to receive your guns at your death, and to name co-trustees who would be able to use your NFA firearms when you were not present.
Contact us to help you set up your NFA Firearms Trust today!