The world of NFA trusts, or gun trusts, is still new to many gun owners.  Because of the complex estate planning and federal firearm laws involved, individuals who wish to set up one of these trusts should understand what all is involved.  This article will answer many questions and provide a basic overview of the process. I’ve heard about gun trusts and how you can have one if you want to register a suppressor, short barreled rifle, or machine gun.  How do they work? A gun trust is the registered owner of the NFA weapon.  Under the NFA (National Firearms Act), guns such as short barreled rifles, fully automatic machine guns, and sound suppressors (silencers) must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).  It used to be that an individual would register their weapon in their own name, which meant that only they could legally possess that weapon.  However, with a gun trust, the trust itself is the registered owner and anyone listed in the trust may legally possess that weapon.  These individuals are called trustees, and the person who establishes the trust is the settlor, or grantor.  A valid trust must also have at least one beneficiary–that is who will receive the trust property upon the settlor’s death.  Is there any limit on the number of trustees?  Does a trustee have to be related to me? There is no limit, and a trustee does not have to be a family member.  One of the main requirements is that a trustee in a Tennessee NFA trust must be at least 18 years old and eligible to possess firearms.  Can I list children as beneficiaries? Yes.  Because of age restrictions a child would not be able to be a trustee, but children and minors can be beneficiaries in a gun trust.  Once the child becomes of age he or she could be added as a trustee.  Provisions can be made in the trust where, if the settlor dies before the beneficiaries are of age, the NFA weapons are kept in a secure place with a responsible adult.  A Tennessee firearms trust lawyer can help with this. So anyone I name as a trustee can legally possess an NFA weapon in the trust without me present? Absolutely.  They have full legal rights to any weapons registered in the trust.  In contrast, registration by an individual in his or her own name precludes anyone else from possessing or using that weapon without the owner present. Can I have trustees in different states? Yes.  Your Tennessee NFA trust lawyer can prepare your documents for trustees in different locations. Is my gun trust a public document?  Does it get filed at court? No.  A Tennessee gun trust is completely private, unlike a corporation which must be filed with the Tennessee Secretary of State.  You must send an executed copy of your trust to ATF with the rest of your registration paperwork, but you do not file it at court or with your county records department. What are some other advantages with a gun trust? You do not have to get fingerprinted or photographed as part of your ATF application, and you do not need to have your Sheriff or chief law enforcement officer sign the application.  By listing beneficiaries, you get peace of mind knowing who will receive these highly regulated weapons after your death. How long does it take to set up this kind of trust?  Do I have to come to your office? As a Tennessee gun trust attorney, I can have your documents back to you in just a few days after receiving all the necessary information.  Although my office is in Memphis, I draft trusts for individuals and families all throughout Tennessee.  You do not need to come to my office, as the entire process can be done over the phone and through email.  To get started, call me at 901-205-9894, or email me at

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