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Discussion or advice on how to create an Illegal NFA item will result in an immediate ban. No advice given within should replace user due diligence. Always consult a lawyer / professional.



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 Living Trust 
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Location: Olympia, WA
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Welcome to WGO and thanks for that great first post! I have removed my blanket trust document since to some, it may do more harm than good. A cookie cutter may work fine with most, but it won't for all.


Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:14 pm
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Great post!

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Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:18 pm
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Anyone know of a good lawyer to get a trust from in Olympia?


Thu Apr 07, 2011 9:48 am
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KR190 wrote:
Anyone know of a good lawyer to get a trust from in Olympia?


Sending PM now


Thu Apr 07, 2011 9:57 am
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KR190 wrote:
Anyone know of a good lawyer to get a trust from in Olympia?


We have a member here Woodinvillegunlawyer that specializes in NFA Trusts. May not be local to Olympia, but I don't think you would need him to be just to draft the paperwork.


Thu Apr 07, 2011 3:57 pm
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Massivedesign wrote:
KR190 wrote:
Anyone know of a good lawyer to get a trust from in Olympia?


We have a member here Woodinvillegunlawyer that specializes in NFA Trusts. May not be local to Olympia, but I don't think you would need him to be just to draft the paperwork.


I gave him a call.


Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:49 am
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Great Post!!! Lots of good info, Thanks


Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:23 am
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I have had several inquiries lately about what to do if someone has used a DIY trust and wanted to get a public reply out there. In most cases, a generic trust has language which will allow the trust to be amended from time to time as needed. We would utilize this language to basically restate your entire trust. Just about every provision would be updated and tailored for a firearms specific trust. The only thing that will remain the same is the name of the trust.

In my opinion (and of course I have a little bias), you are protecting everyone in your family, your shooting buddies, and all of those who will be managing your NFA items at death or incapacity by using a firearms specific trust. The amount of detail inherent in these documents should not be brushed off to save a couple/few hundred dollars. As we all know, firearms are demonized by some and regulated as much as possible. Consider it an insurance policy.


Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:49 am
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Doesn't a trust (or a corp) also have the advantage that you can let your spouse or kids, if they are named as co-trustees or officers in the corp to use the item without it being an unlawful transfer of an NFA item? Plus when you die, and your kids are already on there they don't have to do anything to take possession since they already "own" the trust of corp?
It's starting to seem that a trust is a very good way to go, even if you could get the CLEO to sign your Form 4.


Fri May 20, 2011 11:31 pm
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Unicorn wrote:
Doesn't a trust (or a corp) also have the advantage that you can let your spouse or kids, if they are named as co-trustees or officers in the corp to use the item without it being an unlawful transfer of an NFA item? Plus when you die, and your kids are already on there they don't have to do anything to take possession since they already "own" the trust of corp?
It's starting to seem that a trust is a very good way to go, even if you could get the CLEO to sign your Form 4.


From what I understand, yes about the kids and co-trustees. When you die, I am not sure (still breathing), but from what I have heard is that your next of kin fills out an ATF Form 5; "Application For Tax Exempt Transfer and Registration of Firearm" and then sends that along with your death cert. to the ATF. This is of course, if they are legally allowed to own firearms.

**not a lawyer **


Sat May 21, 2011 5:38 am
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Massivedesign wrote:
Unicorn wrote:
Doesn't a trust (or a corp) also have the advantage that you can let your spouse or kids, if they are named as co-trustees or officers in the corp to use the item without it being an unlawful transfer of an NFA item? Plus when you die, and your kids are already on there they don't have to do anything to take possession since they already "own" the trust of corp?
It's starting to seem that a trust is a very good way to go, even if you could get the CLEO to sign your Form 4.


From what I understand, yes about the kids and co-trustees. When you die, I am not sure (still breathing), but from what I have heard is that your next of kin fills out an ATF Form 5; "Application For Tax Exempt Transfer and Registration of Firearm" and then sends that along with your death cert. to the ATF. This is of course, if they are legally allowed to own firearms.

**not a lawyer **


I would be interested to know this also.
I just assumed if the trust owner dies, the other members just remove him from the trust.

Can you add and remove members willy-nilly like? or is there more to it than that..............

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Tue May 24, 2011 6:39 am
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Trusts vs. Corporations
Both of these entities can be designed and used to hold NFA items. When you form a corporation/LLC you must register with the state, pay an initial filing fee ($180) and pay a renewal fee each year ($70). I know an attorney in the state who forms non-profit corporations to hold NFA items for his clients but that still entails a $30 filing fee and a $10 renewal each year with the state. In any event, the benefits of a corporation over a trust is that the corporation can continue indefinitely where a trust must comply with the rule against perpetuities and dissolve after 150 years of existence (RCW 11.98.130). That being said, the trust I provide allows for “trust decanting” (transfer to another trust rather than to an individual if so desired). In any event, these transfers that are triggered by the death of a person are considered “involuntary transfers” and thus a Form 5 tax free transfer is appropriate.
The problem with using corporations/non-profits is that they are not really geared toward passing property to beneficiaries and they do not deal very well if/when a trustee becomes incapacitated. A trust is primarily an estate planning tool and is therefore geared toward passing assets to your heirs. In the case of the firearms trust, the trust is designed to guide the trustee when distributing not only NFA items but also non-NFA items as well, both of which could carry sever penalties if federal law is not complied with. Further, should you become incapacitated, the trust anticipates this event and has specific provisions on how your assets are managed where a corporation is not necessarily the best choice for this scenario.

Trusts vs. Individual Ownership
Even if you could get a CLEO signoff on your Form 4, owning NFA items in an individual capacity is not the best choice. You will be the only person legally allowed to use the item whereas an entity allows for multiple users of an item. It has even been argued that allowing your spouse to know the combination of your safe where the items are stored is a violation of the NFA if you own the items as an individual. With a corporation the employees/members/managers get to use the items and with a trust both the trustee(s) and the beneficiaries get to use the items. Also, in the trust I use, people with whom you are shooting are deemed limited beneficiaries of your trust. Yes, this is a gray area but it is better than handing the weapon to your friend and having no protections at all. In the event that you wanted to allow a friend or family member to use your NFA items for more than a couple hours with you at the range, the trust I provide can easily be amended to formally add a new beneficiary for 30 days or longer with an automatic expiration date. This choice gives much more strength to the beneficiary status of your friends/family members who will be using your NFA items on a sporadic basis but are not the remainder beneficiaries of your trust (the final heirs).
Also, owning as an individual provides no protections/guidance if you become incapacitated or after your death. Your family members who may or may not know about the applicable laws and regulations may be forced to step in and handle your affairs and could make a costly mistake along the way, the “accidental felony.” The trust I provide gives detailed guidance on how, when, and who can own or possess both NFA and non-NFA items and how these items should be transferred.

Taking a Step Back
In reality, the chance of someone being arrested and prosecuted for some of the accidental felony scenarios is low. However, there is a risk that it could happen and after weighing the possible penalties, many people think it is a prudent investment to purchase a firearms trust and consider it an insurance policy. Even if you do not ever need to show your trust and applicable tax stamps to a law enforcement officer while at the range (or your backyard depending on where you live), the trust is a very good way to transfer all of your firearms at your death. It provides privacy as there is no court records with the administration of a trust and it will help guide the successor trustee who may not share your interests in the firearms related fields.

I know that this was a long-winded response but I am passionate about the subject and I hope that I have clarified any outstanding questions. If anyone ever wants to talk about specific situations, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

My contact information can be found at www.WoodinvilleLaw.com.


Tue May 24, 2011 11:11 am
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Fantastic POST!


Tue May 24, 2011 12:12 pm
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It's great to have a place to talk about legal subjects that affect our gun ownership and gun rights. Be very careful of DIY solutions or things you read on the Internet. Law is rarely simple, and trust law is way more complicated than most people realize. If you read this post, you will understand as I do that a trust for guns is NOT the same thing as a conventional living trust. My professional opinion is that you should generally not combine the two.

Like Keith Wells, I am a Washington trust attorney also licensed to practice in Oregon, Alaska, before the Federal Bar and the IRS. I have studied trust law for 23+ years, teach locally and nationally, and actually have published systems out there in use by other attorneys. This area of law is not "simple". The things Keith wrote about so well are worth reading.

Trusts for guns were unknown to me up until about 18 months ago. One day, in a gun shop, I found out that I could own (gasp!) a silencer... but not legally shoot one. I learned that an entity could apply for a tax stamp without requiring me to risk going through my local sheriff first, giving up privacy and risking a rejection. Better, one of my favorite entities, the living trust, seemed ideally suited to help me out since it is not registered, does not pay separate income tax as designed, and is easy to change. I design trusts for WealthCounsel, LLC, supporting about 1300 law firms nationally so decided to build a gun trust.

During these last months I have done online and legal research, have talked to the BATFE, and have talked to gun shop owners and manufacturers who know how things work. The inescapable conclusion was that there are serious issues with ANY conventional living trust, from the worst to the best, used to own firearms. BATFE approval for a tax stamp aside, guns are not like stock certificates.

Mere access to a firearm by prohibited persons can lead to state and federal felony charges. Some people cannot have access to firearms even if not convicted of a crime... Know anybody that drinks too much or that uses controlled substances, for example? How about somebody that has a domestic violence past... and the combination to your gun safe?

I don't know about you, but I am married and my wife does not particularly like firearms and she is not comfortable with them. She has no idea what the law is with respect to silencers or pistols or carbines should I die and she wants to sell it all off. She is not even interested in the subject... unless I do something that really gets her mad... then she wants to sell off ALL of my treasures, calling them "your crap". Wow. That hurts. I like my treasures.

Transfer of a firearm the wrong way, to the wrong person, without required federal documentation can all be a felony. Even the best living trust I have ever written is SILENT about these issues. Worse, trustee powers or even distribution directions in such a trust can encourage those I appoint to administer or receive benefits when I am not in charge can tacitly allow or encourage accidental commission of felonies.

I regulary see BATFE kick back trust applications. Quicken Trusts, LegalZoom Trusts, free gun shop or Internet downloaded trusts... even attorney-drafted living trusts. I see them come back all the time. Often it's because somebody did not fill in the blanks... but even if BATFE approves them, the issues set out in the prior paragraph remain as ticking time bombs.

I wrote my first gun trust for myself and it was approved by BATFE without a hitch. (Well, my Form 4 got rejected because I submitted it on two pages instead of one, but that is another story). The more I tweaked the trust the more stunned I was to see how a conventional living trust has Trustee powers and instructions in it that create danger for Trustees and Beneficiaries alike. Normal trust design is way too broad for application to guns. If anybody wants specifics, or horror stories that are true, let me know. In fact, one of the moderators told me that a Forest Ranger (Law Enforcement) asked him to prove that he was in legal possession of a silencer today! I have similar stories from lots of people AND from officers I know. These include Seattle Police, Bothell Police, King County Sheriff's Office, Whatcom County Sheriff's Office, and a number of others.

If you are interested, you can learn a lot from www.guntrustlawyer.com which is operated by my colleague, David Goldman, in Florida. Just like me, he will tell you stories and give you the facts on why a real gun trust is probably a better investment to protect your firearms, yourself, your friends and beneficiaries. I am a believer too. I will be happy to answer general questions about individual applications vs. the use of corporations, trusts, LLCs or other entities to acquire NFA firearms like silencers. My friend and fellow attorney Keith Wells, will too.

If anybody got a trust kicked back, did a DIY trust or got a free one at Ye Old Silencer Shop causing you to lose sleep at night, or if you want more information feel free to talk to me or to Keith Wells. ASK AWAY! We are happy to answer what we can.

Keith and I stand ready to help any forum member come to a better understanding of the pros and cons of each approach. The goal is for each of us to make a good individual choice on how to proceed, willing to be held accountable for our decision. It's kind of how I look at the Second Amendment - I have rights, I have freedom, but I am also accountable for my actions. That's why I also believe in firearms training for concealed carry, managing confrontation, managing a scene after one occurs! Being a good shot is the easy part compared to all of that.

Dennis Brislawn, J.D.
The Original "GunDocx" Attorney


Sat Jun 04, 2011 6:19 pm
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Dennis and Keith, thank you for sharing your knowledge here . . . and also at our "suppressor lunch" today! :tiphat:

Steve

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Sat Jun 04, 2011 6:26 pm
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