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Maryland NFA Firearms Trusts

What is the purpose of a Maryland NFA Firearms Trust?

An NFA Firearms Trust is set up for easier and faster acquisition of NFA firearms.  They also can be tailored to protect your ability to leave to your family, NFA or Type II firearms. Advantages to an NFA Trust are significant. The NFA Trust or corporation is a separate legal entity, and is the actual purchaser of the NFA item, and not an individual on the ATF Form 4 (NFA transfer document).  This maintains a high degree of privacy right off the top.  In addition, having a NFA Firearms Trust removes the individual requirement of fingerprints and personal photographs.  Best of all, no CLEO (Chief Law Enforcement Officer) signature is required to “sign off” on your NFA item. This is one of the biggest barriers and having a NFA Firearms Trust completely removes this requirement.

Some other benefits:

If you unfortunately happen to become incapacitated, the NFA Firearms Trust protects your family or appointed guardian from accidentally violating the NFA laws by coming in contact with NFA firearms. A trust protects them, spelling out what they can and cannot do with the firearms.

If you individually own firearms and don’t have a NFA Firearms Trust when you pass away, your firearms will be part of your “probate estate.” Probate proceedings are required to transfer your firearms in your will to your beneficiaries, and are part of public record. As it is usually a family member who executes your probatel proceedings upon your death, you don’t want them to inadvertently violate the NFA. With an NFA Firearms Trust, your firearms are not subject to probate proceedings or public record that individually owned items would be. Your beneficiaries can rest assured because they will receive assistance on how the items can legally be transferred to other persons. If you have children, a well written NFA Firearms Trust will have specific wording that will protect them and make sure they do not receive the NFA Trust items if they live in a state where it is unlawful to possess NFA firearms, and most importantly, that they are competent enough that you would want them to have ownership of the firearms.

With a NFA Firearms Trust, an adult child or family member can be made a co-trustee of the trust. While the ownership of the NFA Firearms Trust can be changed, the NFA Firearms Trust is still the registered owner of the firearms and no transfer has taken place under the NFA. This ensures that upon your death, the NFA firearms are not being taken away from your family. Many people falsely believe that it is ok to let others handle or try out their NFA firearms when in their immediate presence. However, under the NFA this would consider this a unauthorized transfer and be an in violation of NFA law. If an individual purchases Title II firearms then he or she is the only one permitted to use or have access to the firearms. With an NFA Trust, this can be avoided.

If your spouse or a trusted friend knows the combination to your gun safe or vault, you may be violating the NFA restriction on letting others access or possess your NFA items and firearms. Indirect possession, though it is considered ‘constructive possession’ is a form of illegal possession, and a violation of the NFA. The smartest thing to do is to get an NFA Firearms Trust. If you use a NFA Firearms Trust to acquire Title II firearms, you can designate other owners and authorized persons. You can eliminate the risk of an improper constructive possession issue with a signature authorizing said person to possess the items in question. This will help protect you and your family from the severe penalties of violating the law.

What is the difference between a NFA Firearms Trust and a traditional Trust?

There are numerous differences between a traditional trust and a NFA Firearms Trust. A NFA firearms trust is a ‘revocable trust’ in as much, the owner can change or modify who is named as part of the trust right up until they die. Traditional trusts do not instruct who can use, sell, or possess Type II weapons. If you become incapacitated, it may be necessary to sell some assets for financial reasons. This is a covered topic in a NFA Firearms Trust. A NFA Firearms trust provides information to determine if the person receiving them has legal ability to take possession of them, that the NFA firearms are legal to possess in the recipients home state, that it is OK to transfer the items, and that the successor trustee is confident that the recipient is responsible and mature enough to possess NFA firearms.

The penalties for NFA violations are severe! 

Each violation subjects the firearms owner to forfeiture of ALL firearms, a 10 year prison term, and up to $250,000 in fines. Do yourself a favor, contact an attorney who is familiar with NFA law, and enact a quality NFA Firearms Trust today. Don’t give those ‘Free Trusts’ you see on the internet a second look.  MANY of them are completely invalid! Although the ATF may allow a transfer into the trust, if it is later deemed ‘invalid’, you are now in violation of possessing an NFA firearm illegally!