Saturday, April 2, 2016

ATF Comments on gun trusts

Following up on our most recent blog post, NFA Branch attorney Bill Ryan made additional comments at the Firearms Law Seminar at the NRA Convention in Nashville last week that warrant review.

Speaking of gun trusts in general, he stated that in his opinion, bad fill-in-the-blank gun trusts are the greatest cause of the tremendous backlog of applications awaiting approval by the ATF, because they cause so many denial letters to be sent and then have to be reviewed again once corrections are made.

Surprisingly, Mr. Ryan singled out the "Easytrust" being marketed by suppressor manufacturer SilencerCo as being one of the worst D.I.Y. gun trusts available, even being worse than a trust drafted using Quicken Willmaker.  There are apparently numerous problems with that particular template, even though it is only 4 1/2 pages long, including:

  • The trust permits NFA violations throughout the document.

  • The trust permits any trustee to sell your guns without your consent.

  • The Trust permits trustees to take away your gun rights if in their opinion you can’t handle your own affairs.

  • The trust directs distribution to beneficiaries upon your death without any written permission (a violation of the NFA)

  • The instructions incorrectly state that the trust needs to be registered in many states where it does not (seems to be similar to the problem we reported with the quicken trust)

  • Directs you to obtain an EIN number for their trust when it is not necessary.

Fortunately, using a trust created with a template will avoid all these problems.  It is thorough and complete, with very comprehensive language about the handling of NFA firearms.

To illustrate the reasons why copying your buddy's trust is never a good idea, Mr. Ryan also noted that someone who had successfully created an NFA trust uploaded his trust to a social media website and suggested that it had worked for him so everyone else could use it, too.  Of course, everyone looking for a free ride started downloading it and without knowing what the essential elements of a trust are, tried to make it their own probably just by changing the grantor's name.  Many such persons received rejection letters indicating their trust was invalid.  Many others were successful in getting enough things changed that the trust was not rejected, but unfortunately did not change the remainder beneficiary (the person who inherits everything after the grantor's death), so the ATF believes that some random woman stands to eventually inherit thousands of NFA firearms at some point.

This is a fantastic example of why you shouldn't try to do it all by  yourself - YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW and what the consequences might be.  Rely on something drafted by an EXPERIENCED, well-versed attorney to get it done right.  That's what they are there for - to make sure you get it right!

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