Many individuals are using Quicken, LegalZoom, or traditional revocable trusts to purchase firearms regulated by the NFA. A traditional trust is not appropriate for the purchase, transfer, or use of NFA firearms because of the unique characteristics of these firearms. A typical revocable trust is created to protect an individual from others who might abuse their powers and detrimentally affect their interest in the property that is owned by the trust. These traditional trusts are problematic for holding assets regulated under the NFA because they do not consider the penalties and legal obligations of those involved with the trust in relation to state and federal laws. As lawyers we have a duty to become knowledgeable and competent in the areas in which we practice or associate with someone who can provide the knowledge necessary to provide the legal service we are offering. A lawyer who provides a traditional trust to a client with the intent of purchasing, holding, transferring, or using NFA firearms opens themselves up to a malpractice claim because the traditional trust instructs individuals to take actions which violate the NFA. While this may not be apparent during the grantor’s life, the violations often come to light upon the death or incapacity of the grantor.

During the life of the grantor, while the problems may be minimized, there are still potential problems with a traditional revocable trust when used to hold NFA firearms. Most gun dealers and lawyers do not understand the importance of purchasing the items correctly or protecting others from constructive possession. While the ATF does not appear to be prosecuting individuals for the improper purchase or storage or sharing of these items at this time, there is no intent required in the NFA and a policy change could subject many individuals, their families, and friends to the penalties involved in a NFA or state violation.

UPDATE If you want to create your own Gun Trust without a lawyer, there is a real online Gun Trust that can be created in less than 10 minutes.

If you want to create a gun trust with the help of a Gun Trust Lawyer® Contact Us to begin the process.

Alabama Governor Riley signed a bill into law making Short Barreled Riffles and Shotguns legal to own. The law was signed on 4/14/2010 and becomes effective on 7/5/2010. If you have a NFA Gun Trust, there is nothing you need to do, to be able to purchase these items after 7/5/2010.

This also means if you are going to travel to Alabama, you can use a Form 20 to bring your SBR or SBS to Alabama after the law goes into effect.

Paul Clark has written an article where he notes that if you use of most Title II firearms during a crime of violence or drug trafficking you are subject to a 30 year mandatory minimum sentence. It appears that the 30 year sentence applies to the possession and its use is not required. Note this applies even if you are legally in possession of the silencer by ownership in a NFA Trust, corporation, LLC, or individual ownership.

While the data appears to show that the use of a silencer or most other Title II firearms in a crime is a rare occurrence, individuals might take this into consideration when using silencers on personal firearms when there is a chance that they might be charged with a crime of violence, such as defending yourself.

While many states have stand your ground statutes or castle doctrines, its possible that overzealous self-defense can lead to criminal charges. If the charges are in the federal court, you could be looking at enhanced penalties like those described in 18. U.S.C. Section 924(c)(1).

If a NFA Trust or Gun Trust is not funded, it does not exist. It’s important to have a trust funded for it to exist. This is one of the reasons ATF requires an Schedule A or Assignment Sheet. This shows that there are assets in the trust. Many Trusts are rejected by ATF as invalid because of their appearance of being invalid by not having any assets. Many states do not have a requirement to include a list of assets with the trust or even proof that it has been funded but ATF has a checklist and will not approve a transfer to a trust without including a Schedule A or Assignment to the trust. If you trust was rejected by ATF and would like to know why, we and our network of over 100 lawyers can help you determine what needs to be done to your trust and if there are problems with the design of your trust in regards to NFA firearms.

Lately we are seeing many people whose Trusts are being rejected by ATF. It appears that ATF has finally decided to try to determine if trusts are valid before allowing people to use a Form 1 or Form 4 transfer.

The bad news is many individuals are finding out that Quicken is not up to date in some states like Florida, and that copies of Quicken or trusts created by others may not be valid under current laws or the laws of other states.

There is a dealer is Jacksonville, who has been preparing invalid trusts for their clients. Not only is this the unauthorized practice of law, a crime in Florida and other states, but they do not understand the importance of understanding the individuals circumstances when preparing a trust. Quicken in general is a really bad tool to use in Florida because it does not comply with many of the 2007 Trust Code Revisions (Yes revisions that were made public more than 4 years ago). For more information on this you might read Using Quicken to Prepare a Trust: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

As I head out to Knob Creek for the Machine Gun Shoot, I am sure I will year many horror stories involving ATF and invalid trusts. If you need help fixing a problem with an invalid trust give us a call, click live chat, or send us an email and we will help you prepare a valid trust that deals with your unique issues and circumstances and your local states laws. We work with attorneys in most states and prepare NFA Firearms trusts. Generally we are providing information based on the NFA and the local attorney provides the state trust and firearms law expertise.

Next weekend is the Bi-Annual Machine Gun Shoot at the Knob Creek Gun Range. Over 15,000 people and 800 vendors are expected to attend. If you are planning on attending let me know and perhaps we could meet at the show. Here is a link for some general information and here is the 2010 Machine Gun Shoot Schedule

Knob Creek Gun Range
690 Ritchey Lane
West Point, KY 40177 map.
Phone: 502-922-4457

While its legal to give someone a form for a trust or will to fill out, its illegal for a non-lawyer to help them complete the form or fill it out for them. Gerry Beyer of the WIlls, Trust & Estate Prof Blog brought my attention to this issue. Many software manufactures, firearms manufactures, gun stores, and individuals do not understand that the act of helping someone create legal documents without a license to practice law is the Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) and a crime in every state. The reason these actions are prohibited by state law is that individuals without the proper legal knowledge and background tend to give wrong, inaccurate, and misleading advise to others who can be harmed by the misinformation.

Take for example the Silencer manufacture in the Midwest, who use to post a free trust for their clients. While a lawyer could have taken that trust and completed it correctly, it was missing some very important language which made the trust invalid in almost every state. The ATF was approving these trusts for a while, but as these individuals have been going back to make new purchases, they are being told that their trust is not valid.

Likewise, there are many examples of Quicken trusts that are posted on the INTERNET. Besides being inappropriate for NFA firearms, which a non-lawyer would not understand, many are not valid in other states. We have seen many people trying to use an Arizona trust in Florida. The problem is Florida has different requirements for a valid trust than Arizona and while if the trust was created in Arizona it might be valid, if it is created in Florida it will not comply with the Florida Trust Code. We see these issues all over the country and this is why we work with more than 100 lawyers in over 40 states to help individuals and their families prepare valid trusts that deal with the unique issues of NFA firearms ownership, transfer, possession, and use.

Apparently LegalZoom is the latest company to be sued for UPL because they were offering customized wills and information on how to modify their will and change payable on death accounts and joint property deal with estate planning issues.

If you are looking to prepare a trust for any purpose, you should have your individual circumstances and objectives reviewed by a lawyer who can then make suggestions and give you options based upon what makes sense for you and your family.


ATF 5300.4 in 27 CFR 479.102 (page 92) describes what is necessary to engrave on a SBR or SBS when one is manufacturing. This is not necessary if you purchase one that is already manufactured as it will have been done for you.

1) On the Frame or Receiver the Serial number;

2) on the frame, receiver, or barrel the following additional information;

   A)The model;

   B)The caliber or gage;

   C)Your name or name of the Trust in the case of a Trust (no abbreviations are permitted for the Trust name);

   D)The city and state (you can abbreviate the state with the official 2 digit state code)

The above mentioned information must be engraved, casted, stamped (impressing) or otherwise conspicuously placed or caused to be engraved, cast, stamped (impressed) or placed to a minimum depth of .003 inch and in a print size of the Serial number shall be no smaller than 1/16 inch.

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