Recently I was contacted by a client who's gun dealer provides their clients a free Revocable Trust to purchase NFA items. After reviewing the Free NFA Gun Trust Form, I was shocked to discover that there was no way this trust could create a valid trust. A trust by definition must separate beneficial and legal ownership of the assets that are held in the trust. If this is not done, there is no trust. If there is no trust, any transfer to the trust is a violation of the NFA whether or not approved by the ATF. If you are in possession of a NFA firearm and your trust is not valid, you have committed multiple violations of the NFA each of which is subject to a 10 year jail sentence, $250,000 in fines & forfeiture of the firearms.
While some people are interested in only acquiring the firearms, many are interested in protecting their family and friends from illegal purchases, transfers, possession and other activities that would subject them to 10 years in jail and $250,000 penalties associated with each NFA violation for a trust.
The following are potential problems with the trust that is provided to clients for free. They really do not matter since the trust is invalid but it may help many of you evaluate similar trusts that are posted on the Internet. You may want to download a copy this Invalid Generic NFA trust.doc review with a few of the basic problems found in the trust.
Starting with the top This trust is setup up for 1 creator and trustee. This will expose many families to violations of the NFA for constructive possession IE- your spouse uses, wants to use, has access to, or knows the combination to the firearms safe. - A violation of the NFA. In addition, it allows no one else to use the firearms or be in possession of them other than the individual.
Why include NFA in the name, this only makes the trust's purpose recognizable by others in dealing with the NFA but not a major flaw.
The Insert name here leads people to create long trust names and can cause problems with identification. Lets assume I create the David Michael Goldman Revocable Living Trust dated August 10, 2009 and my wife is in possession of a firearm that is transferred to the trust, how do police know that my wife (who is not David Michael Goldman) is legally able to be in possession, since most police incorrectly believe that these items are illegal to begin with, the chance that she will be detained until proper possession can be proven is much greater than if we used a different naming schema for the the trust.
Please note, the document I have lined to does not create a legal trust and should never be used. Once an item is illegal, it can not become legal through a future transfer.
This is problematic for the trustee and grantor as any trustee can purchase NFA firearms. if the trust is revoked all those in possession are illegally in possession and subject to the criminal penalties associated with violating the NFA. In addition it allows someone acting under a power of attorney to potentially revoke the trust (assuming it was valid to begin with.)
Children's sub trusts are only created once the settlor dies, this does not make sense that the trustee - presumably the owner because of how you structured the trust will be the trustee. Also this trust gives no guidance to the trustee about how to accomplish the transfer without violating the NFA. There is no mention of what these trusts are nor how to create them. This is language taken from a quicken trust and shows the danger of copying a trust from someone else. A NFA trust should rarely discuss children's sub-trusts as the concept does not make sense in relation to firearms, restricted transfer, illegal ownership by minors and many other factors.
This creates a very long name to engrave and use on Form 4's or Form 1's
Tells a trustee they can buy sell lease make alterations to NFA items with no guidance or indication that specific procedures need to be followed or the trustee and buyer or seller will all be subject to the penalties of violating the NFA.
This trust does not name a successor trustee nor a beneficiary nor describe how they will be selected.
This document will not create a legal trust, and anyone who has used this document to create a trust and purchased items subject to the NFA is illegally in possession of the Title II firearms - regardless of the approval from the NFA. The NFA approval assumes a valid trust and does not guarantee that a trust is in place.
If you have used this trust or a similar trust I would suggest contacting a Gun Trust Lawyer® and amending and restating your trust before the ATF comes knocking on your door as they have for others.
See this article and this article this article and this article on problems with quicken and legal zoom.