Gun Trusts

No CLEO Signature Required BUT You Must notify the CLEO .

The ATF requires that all individuals obtain approval from their Chief Law Enforcement Officer (the “CLEO”) as part of the application process to obtain a Title II firearm from another individual or Class 3 dealer. Many CLEOs around the country are refusing sign or even acknowledge the ATF Forms.

There is no legal remedy in most states to force the review of these forms. In most states a NFA Gun Trust does not require the CLEO’s signature to obtain approval on a Form 4.

Trustee must Submit Fingerprints or Photographs .

When using an NFA Gun Trust to acquire Title II firearms, no fingerprints or photographs are required. This is a cost savings and can also significantly decrease the time required to take possession of the items. Often fingerprints have to be retaken because they are not acceptable for the FBI’s criminal database.

Your incapacitation could cause loved ones to break the law.

If you become incapacitated, your family or friends are often the ones to help you. In doing so, they may come in contact with the restricted items and put themselves at risk of violating the NFA without knowledge. An NFA Gun Trust helps protect these individuals from violating the NFA by providing them clear instructions on what they are and are not permitted to do. Many normal trusts actually instruct people to break the law.

In the event of your death.

When you die, your individually owned firearms will be part of your “probate estate.” Probate proceedings will be necessary to transfer your guns under your will or to your heirs and are part of the public record. Since a family member or a friend usually handles probate proceedings, it is important not to unknowingly place them at risk of violating the NFA. With an NFA Gun Trust, your firearms are not subject to probate or made part of a public record. Your beneficiaries will be protected because they will receive guidance on how and under what circumstances the items can be legally transferred. If you have children, a NFA Gun Trust has specific provisions to protect them and make sure they do not receive the firearms if they live in a location where it is illegal to possess NFA firearms, and most importantly a NFA Gun Trust can help ensure that your children are mature and responsible enough that you would want them to have the firearms.

Co-owners and Authorized Users.

If an individual purchases Title II firearms then he or she is the only one permitted to use or have access to them. Many people incorrectly believe that  it is ok to let others use their NFA firearms when in their presence. However, the NFA would consider this a transfer and be a violation of the law. When your spouse or someone else knows the combination to your firearms safe, you may be violating the law through constructive possession. Improper possession through constructive possession is a form of an unapproved transfer and a violation of the NFA. If you use an NFA Gun Trust to purchase Title II firearms, you can designate additional owners and authorized users. If you want to add or change users or owners a NFA Trust can be adapted to reflect your current desires. The risk of constructive possession can be dealt with by adding that person to the NFA Gun Trust so that they can be in legal possession of the Firearms. This can help protect you and your family from the penalties of violating the NFA.

Reducing Risk of Legal Changes.

Many groups are attempting to limit the ability to transfer firearms to family members or friends. With an NFA Gun Trust an adult child, family member, or friend can be made a co-owner of the trust. While the ownership of the NFA Gun Trust can be changed, the NFA Gun Trust is still the registered owner of the firearms and no transfer has taken place under the NFA. Penalties for violating the National Firearms Act can be severe. Each violation of the National Firearms Act subjects the owner to forfeiture of all weapons, 10 years in prison, and fines of up to $250,000. An NFA Gun Trust provides guidance to the creators, managers, and beneficiaries of the trust to help them avoid violating the NFA.

Benefits of a NFA Gun Trust Over a Revocable Trust.

There are more than 50 differences between a traditional trust and an NFA Gun Trust. Only a few of the issues will be discussed here. Most trusts do not instruct how to purchase, who may use, or who may have access to Title II firearms. They also do not give the people involved with the trust enough information to properly sell or transfer assets. If you become incapacitated, a normal trust may require the sale of your firearms or transfer to an ineligible individual or one who does not know the restrictions on these highly restricted firearms. When you die, these restricted firearms need to be transferred properly and only to those who are legally able to be in possession.


An NFA Gun Trust provides information to determine if:

  1. it is permissible to transfer the items;
  2. the items are legal in the state where they will be transferred to;
  3. the beneficiary is legally able to be in possession of or use the firearms;

and most importantly

  1. the successor trustee is given the ability to determine on their own, when

and if the beneficiary is mature and responsible enough to receive the



A normal trust allows the trust to be revoked even if its assets become illegal upon revocation. Also a normal trust allows a trustee to resign while they are still in possession of restricted firearms. A trustee may also find that with a normal trust, an agent acting under a power of attorney may take actions that are in violation of the NFA and subject them to criminal penalties. Most people using traditional trusts purchase NFA firearms incorrectly. They usually purchase them as an individual and then transfer the weapons into the trust. While the ATF may approve a transfer from the dealer to the trust, they never approved an individual transfer from the dealer nor a transfer from the

individual to the trust. Each of these is a violation of the NFA.

Invalid & Traditional Trusts.

Many free trusts on the Internet or from other sources have been found to be invalid. Lately we have seen many dealers and manufactures providing trusts to customers or helping them to fill out the trusts in order to purchase firearms. The problem with using an invalid trust or one not signed correctly or a trust that is not complete is that the trust may not exist. If the trust does not exist, even if the ATF approves a transfer to the trust, you will be illegally in possession of the firearm and subject to the penalties of the NFA. Even otherwise valid trusts like a traditional estate planning trust or one from Intuit or Legal Zoom have substantial problems with dealing with incapacity, death, and transfer of the firearms as they instruct the trustees to take steps that create liability to the beneficiary, put the assets at risk of seizure, and put both the trustees and beneficiary at risk of the penalties for violating the NFA. You should seek legal advice from someone familiar with the NFA and not just someone who can create a trust. A lawyer who recommends or supplies a traditional trust for NFA firearms may be committing legal malpractice and many so called gun trusts or trusts for NFA firearms do not properly deal with the purchase, possession, and use of NFA firearms.

Laws Change!!.

Fire Arms Laws are always subject to changes, additions and revisions.  As a responsible firearms  owner, we advise you to stay informed on such changes as the laws in place at the time of your trust formation may change.