Before you use an old trust to register new NFA firearms, you should consider updating your trust to remove ‘responsible persons.’
Since the ‘41F’ changes to the rules for registering NFA firearms by trusts made by the Obama administration, any person qualifying as a ‘responsible person’ in a trust must complete ATF Form 5320.23, which includes fingerprints and photographs for each new NFA application. A ‘responsible person’ would include any person authorized to possess your trust’s NFA firearms. This raises two key points.
First, Form 23 only applies to responsible persons who are in your trust while an NFA application is in process. Thus, if you remove a ‘responsible person’ from your trust before submitting an NFA application, that person would not be subject to Form 23—even if you re-appoint that same person to your trust after receiving a new NFA tax stamp.
Second, neither the beneficiaries, who inherit your trust’s firearms, nor the successor trustee, who manages the trust after you, need to be a ‘responsible persons.’ Thus, you could appoint a successor trustee or a beneficiary for estate planning purposes without exposing those people to the fingerprint and photo requirements for Form 23, if your trust is designed accordingly.
There could be hundreds of thousands of NFA trusts designed before 41F and Form 23. They did not anticipate the requirements for ‘responsible persons.’ Many of these were do-it-yourself trusts, and they lack updated guidance or legal support for the new regulations. Many of these trusts inadvertently gave ‘responsible person’ status to various co-trustees, co-settlors, co-grantors, beneficiaries, successor trustees, etc. ATF is now rejecting applications by these trusts if they do not include Form 23s for each of these responsible persons.
Assuming it’s undesirable to collect fingerprints and photos for responsible persons in a trust other than the principle trustee, you may avoid this red tape by removing these other people from your trust before submitting an NFA application; however, we recommend you make changes to your trust with the help of a qualified attorney. For example, if you remove the only beneficiary in a trust, you could invalidate the trust.
Before and after 41F, Arsenal Attorneys’ Arsenal Gun Trust avoided these problems, and we keep our clients apprised of important developments in this area of law. If you’re concerned with a trust you obtained elsewhere, you can become an Arsenal Attorneys client. We can then completely revise your existing trust using our Arsenal Gun Trust design. The revision, or ‘restatement’, would enable you to change the people in your trust and make other updates, such as an address change.
Your restatement would include forms customized for you to add/remove ‘subordinate trustees.’ Other than you, the subordinate trustee would be the only other person(s) who would qualify as a responsible person for new NFA applications. Thus, you could use the forms to remove subordinate trustees if you wish to exclude those people from new NFA applications. After receiving a tax stamp, you could then appoint (or re-appoint) subordinate trustees to your trust so they may possess your trust’s NFA firearms—without ever having completed Form 23 and without providing fingerprints and photos.
The concept of a ‘subordinate’ trustee is one of many innovations by Arsenal Attorneys. In comparison, typical gun trusts give people authority to possess your trust’s NFA firearms by appointing them as co-trustees; however, that status could make them your co-equal, and, therefore, threaten your control over your own gun trust. From the beginning we’ve always made our clients the sole person to control the trust, and subordinate trustees are given only the limited authority they need for safe and legal possession of NFA firearms.
Arsenal Attorneys™ is perhaps America’s largest firearms law practice with thousands of clients nationwide. We have taught firearms law for the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, the Financial Planners’ Association, and the National Rifle Association. Our attorneys include certified firearms instructors, FFLs, one of the original plaintiffs in the landmark Heller case, and a plaintiff in the successful Palmer case for DC carry permits. Recently we won 2nd Amendment suits overturning unconstitutional laws in DC and Baltimore.
We operate as a modern law practice, using online technology to serve clients conveniently and efficiently by phone, email, and shipments of their documents to their doorstep. Our mission is to help clients acquire, handle, and inherit firearms. Our vision is to deliver legal services so focused on our area of specialty that we can offer the highest quality in a cost-effective manner.
To obtain a new Arsenal Gun Trust or to request a restatement of a trust you obtained elsewhere, complete our online questionnaire at this link.