Keeping Your Personal Representative or Executor Out of Jail
If you own firearms, you should reevaluate the trustees, successor trustees and beneficiaries in any estate planning documents. It is important to avoid people who are prohibited people from owning or being in possession of firearms and ammunition.

Many people do not even know that they may be a prohibited person. There is not an easy way to determine if someone named in your documents is a prohibited person or not without asking them a bunch of questions. In addition, certain items you may own may be illegal in some states and even if the person is not prohibited, it may be a crime for them to take these items to a location where they are prohibited.

If you own any firearms, you need to be careful to avoid potentially serious problems with your family and friends.

Under Federal Law the mere possession of any type of firearm or ammunition by a “prohibited person” is a crime. There is no exception for Executors, Personal Representatives, or Trustees. Upon accepting his or her appointment, an Executor, Personal Representative, or Trustee may become a criminal. The Federal Statutes contain a long list of things that make someone a prohibited person including: conviction in any court of a crime punishable by more than a year in prison; being an unlawful drug user (even if legal in the state); having been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions and having been convicted of a misdemeanor where the charge was one involving domestic violence.

NFA Firearms are sold by Class 3 SOT dealers and include machine guns, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, Suppressors, AOWs and certain other items are subject to the National Firearms Act. Even deactivated war trophies can still be under the NFA. The mere possession of these items by anyone not having the appropriate documentation (not just convicted criminals) is a federal crime. Ignorance of the law is not a defense.

Without proper authorization and documentation to be in possession of these items makes them contraband and is a crime. In many states possession of regular “Assault Weapons” is a crime and can subject you to criminal prosecution.

If you own firearms, it is important to review your estate planning documents with a Gun Trust Lawyer® to help ensure that they are dealt with properly in the event of your death or disability. Many traditional trusts or wills instruct your family and friends to take actions that are illegal when it comes to the possession and transfer of firearms.

House File 284 was recently introduced to lift the ban on owning or using a silencer or suppressor. Iowa is one of only eleven (11) states that ban the device for some individuals. The bill sponsor has stated that a suppressor is a usefull tool for preventing hearing damage. Currently the use of a suppressor in Iowa is a Class D felony. Lets hope Iowa changes this law and permits suppressors. If you have an Iowa Gun Trust and the law changes you will be permitted to purchase suppressors within the state. There are still many benefits for an Iowa Gun Trust or gun trust even if you do not own Title II firearms like suppressors. For more information on how a Gun Trust can help you please request our information by filling out the form on this page.

ATF_Logo.jpgUsing an eForm to file your Form 1 or Form 4 can save several months processing time. We have seen that it can reduce the time from 9-12 months to 3-6 months. As we have outlined before, the website is not the easiest to use or understand and thus there have been many questions which ATF has attempted to address in this guide.
On January 15, 2015 the ATF released a new version of this Guide

The Topics covered include:

How Do I Register To Use eForms?
FFL, EIN and AECA Associations Password Complexity Rule Missing from eForms Registration Instructions Navigating through eForms Icons/Buttons/Symbols Used in eForms Adding Attachments to eForms Submissions Who Can Submit An eForm 1 Or eForm 4 eForm Down Everyday At NOON -1:00PM Eastern Time For Maintenance Make Sure Your Submissions Are Correct How to Identify the Applicant Maker or Transferee on an eForm 1, 4 or 5.
eForms Refund Processing Identification of the maker or manufacturer of a firearm on Form 1 Payment of Making or Transfer Tax Duplicate Applications in Your Draft Folder – Dont delete them NFA – PDF issue with Form 4 Average Processing Times What are those ‘non eForms’ records that appear in my folders?
Name Field Length Limitation Forms 1, 4 and 5 Use of P.O. Boxes

It’s important to do electronic forms correctly the first time as there is not currently a way to fix a mistake or amend them like with the paper applications.

We often get questions from people who are 18 and want to know if they can form a Gun Trust?

The good news is that you can form a gun trust at the age of 18 with a Gun Trust Lawyer®. If you are going to purchase NFA firearms or pistols, you must be at least 21 years to purchase from a dealer. If you purchase NFA firearm from an individual you only need to be 18.

You only need to be 18 to be in possession of a NFA Firearm and other trustees who are on your trust who are over the age of 21 may purchase NFA firearms on behalf of the trust.

You need to be careful about the straw purchase requirements which would prohibit adding someone who is over 21 only to purchase the firearms. You can add someone for other reasons who is over 21 like a parent or sibling that you go shooting with and once they are a co-trustee or trustee on your gun trust, they can make purchases that you might not be able to make as an 18 – 20-year-old.

If you need help structuring a gun trust to meet your desired goals and deal with your specific circumstances, call us or use the contact us form on the right and we will send you information on forming a gun trust with one of the more than 200 Gun Trust Lawyers® we work with around the US.

We often get questions from people about using a regular trust or existing trust that they already have to purchase a suppressor. First a trust or Gun Trust is not required to purchase a suppressor. A suppressor is a Title II firearm, that is sold by a Class III FFL. It can be purchased by an individual, trust, or business entity. Currently, an individuals must obtain a CLEO signature as well as provide fingerprints with the application to purchase a suppressor. Any purchase from an individual, trust, Gun Trust, or business entity must pay a $200 tax stamp and complete an ATF Form 4.

That being said, a Trust or Gun Trust has many other benefits besides the CLEO and fingerprint submission.

  1. A Gun Trust may submit an application electronically and between 2-6 months in processing.
  2. The ability to tell your representatives how to properly transfer these firearms upon your death.
  3. The ability to transfer assets to children, even below the age of 18, when they reach an appropriate age while giving the someone the ability to make distribution decisions based on mental state, physical location, legality of the transfer, and age.
  4. The ability for the Trustee to refuse assets transferred by will or other means if NFA and state requirements are not complied with.
  5. Requirement to comply with NFA and State laws for transfer of NFA related assets.
  6. The ability to make uneven distributions to heirs to conserve value of assets.
  7. The ability to purchase Title II firearms, without creating a violation of the duties of the trustee.
  8. The ability to use the firearms in the trust without creating liability to the beneficiaries.
  9. The instructions and formalities on how to: manufacture items under a Form 1, how to purchase items correctly under a Form 4, how to properly document and transport Title II firearms with a Form 20.
  10. Protection for yourself and your family from Constructive Possession – a violation of the NFA.
  11. The ability to add others to your trust at a later time and create additional authorized users of the firearms.

Some Gun Trusts can even be designed to include:

  1. The ability to have Trustees with different capabilities.
  2. The ability to protect the firearms from your creditors and the creditors of your beneficiaries.
  3. The ability to hold the firearms for multiple generations and in some cases forever.
  4. The ability to modify the terms of the trust to attempt to preserve privacy, ownership, avoid future transfers and loss of firearms due to future legislation.
  5. The ability to easily add users, remove users, change beneficiaries and create temporary users of the firearms.
  6. The your representatives how to properly transfer these firearms upon your death.

So while a regular revocable trust could be used to purchase NFA firearms, a regular trust is designed for financial assets and would often instruct those who survive you to dispose of the firearms in ways that could create legal issues for your family and friends. In addition, the firearms could be sold off to pay your bills or funeral expenses instead of using other cash or assets that may be available.

A Gun Trust is a very specific type of trust that is designed for NFA and non NFA firearms. Before hiring someone to create a Gun Trust or purchasing a NFA Gun Trust, you should check to understand what you are getting because not all gun trusts are the same. Many so called “Gun Trusts” or “NFA Trusts” are regular revocable trusts that are designed for bank account and land and have little to do with firearms.

If you have a trust that you would like reviewed for issues dealing with the NFA, we would be happy to do so at no charge. We will not be reviewing the state issues but federal issues.

While the NRA’s comment is only 17 pages it incorporates many comments and references many including mine. On page one of the NRA’s comment they state
Many Hundreds of comments already published in opposition to 41P exhaustively catalog its various problems and potential for absurd consequences. For example, a comment submitted by David M. Goldman details how 41P is based on an unsophisticated and inaccurate view of the law governing trusts and estate planning.

The NRA’s comment primarily leads with the following 3 issues.

  1. It is illegal for the BATFE to impose requirements that it is not authorized to do.
  2. The requirements could block those who are lawfully entitled to possess NFA firearms from doing so.
  3. ATF failed to justify the costly and consequential changes that 41P would pose.

To review the full comment please see my 41P comment page.

*[I have slightly modified that the NRA states as the Florida Bar as well as many other reserve the word specialize or expert for someone who has been board certified and while most states offer board certification in estate law, none offers such a designation for gun law. While I focus on Gun Trust and gun law, it would be wrong to refer to me an expert or to say I specialize because it would indicate board certification.]

While ATF could change what is published, they have updated their Unified Agenda Statement for 41P to show that Final Action is not expected until June of 2014.

This date could continue to roll forward or with enough political pressure the date could be moved up. The June date should be thought of a target date that may or may not change as we get closer to it. You might think of it like “average life expectancy”. You could die sooner, you could die at the average age, or you could live many years longer than the average. Also it is important to remember that just because we hit an implementation date does not give us any better idea of what may be implemented.


This is good news for those of you wanting to purchase items or form a Gun Trust prior to the implementation of new rules or regulations. There is still no word on what ATF is expected to do in June.

If you do not have a Gun Trust yet, now is the time to get one by requesting more information on the contact form on this page.

Joshua Prince and Tom Odom have put together over 400 pages of comments and exhibits. Below are the broad topics that their extensive comment covers. If you enjoy reading about the Second Amendment, you will enjoy the extensive research and history that is included in this document. Joshua said they were able to shave off 40 or 50 pages by incorporating my comments by reference. I have included their conclusion below for you to read.


Below is a reprint of the conclusion to their Comment on 41p. Remember this comprehensive comment was submitted with over 400 pages of exhibits.

ATF has made a mockery of this proceeding, engaging in numerous tactics designed to deny meaningful public participation. As a result ATF cannot promulgate any final rule that hopes to survive judicial review without starting fresh. In doing so, ATF should consult with a broad cross-section of interests familiar with the laws governing trusts, estates, and business entities rather than a select few. Independent of such problems, moreover, there is ample reason to question whether ATF regulation of certain firearms under the NFA is consistent with the Second Amendment and federalism concerns. ATF’s proposal stretches far beyond any statutory authority. If ATF were to overcome those problems, the fact remains that its proposal is built upon statistically invalid assumptions and false premises. ATF failed to quantify any benefit from the proposed rule and substantially under counted the cost it would impose, including a failure to consider at all some of the largest costs. The proposed rule is demonstrably unworkable and many less-burdensome alternatives exist to address any legitimate concerns.

Even the one portion of the proposal that heads in the right direction — dealing with decedent’s estates — fails to define terms with sufficient specificity as to permit meaningful comment. If that section is intended to codify existing ATF practices, it fails in several key respects. Alternatively, if that section is intended to depart from ATF’s established practices, there is no stated justification for doing so and the result is a proposal that is internally inconsistent in the manner in which it treats fiduciaries.

To download their full comment please visit our 41P Comment page at

The NFATCA has posted a comment to 41p, requested a hearing and has some unusual arguments claiming must of the proposals and even some of the current procedure is not authorized by congress. IN addition they have an interesting Legal Memorandum prepared by Stephen Halbrook that worth taking a look at.
His memo covers

  • A. ATF, Not State and Local CLEOs, Is Responsible for Administration of the National Firearms Act
  • B. The CLEO Requirement Unlawfully Forecloses Judicial Review Under the Administrative Procedure Act
  • C. ATF May Not Compel Disclosure of Tax Returns to CLEOs
  • D. The CLEO-Certificate Requirement Violates Principles of Federalism and the President’s Responsibility to Execute the Laws

I have include it on my 41P comment page available at

One of Clients has submitted a comment to 41P and given us permission to post a copy as it is not likely that it will appear on the published comments before the time to respond has closed. You may want to use parts of this comment to help you express your personal experiences or situation.

In summary this comment discusses

  • ATF has failed to show any real benefits from its proposed rule;
  • Costs and expenses involved with 41P are not accurate;
  • Inability to obtain modified CLEO for responsible parties who are overseas and in states where the items are illegal;
  • Costs of complying with proposals with 21 responsible persons;
  • Inability to comply for children who are responsible persons;
  • Responses from various law enforcement agencies around the country;
  • Medical marijuana issues;
  • Circumstances where CLEO signature may not be available within 30 days.

This is another example of a well written comment for 41P. To read our client’s comments and view his exhibits visit my 41p page at

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