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What’s the best way to create an NFA Trust?

We spend a lot of time talking to people about how to create an NFA Trust, so I figured I should put together a quick post talking about the different methods. Remember that all these methods will work - and each person has to decide what works best for them.  For many people, the primary concern is cost - and that's just fine.  For others, they prefer the peace-of-mind that comes from working with a lawyer - and that's fine too. There is one method that I absolutely would advise against - and that is letting a person or business, who isn't a lawyer, setup the trust for you.  It turns out that it's completely legal to setup the trust yourself (even using self-help software); but, if someone is going to do it for you, that person needs to be licensed as a lawyer in your state. Now, on to the different methods!

Create a generic trust on your own

For people who are looking to spend the least possible on a new trust, this option can be very appealing.  It seems like the most common approach is to use software like Quicken Willmaker. The Quicken Willmaker option works pretty well since it creates a valid trust in your state; but, you do need to keep some guidelines in mind if you choose this route. If you do choose to go this route, we often recommend picking up a copy of Quicken Willmaker 2009 - which is often available very inexpensively off of Amazon.  The reason we recommend the 2009 version is because it is the last version that included the trust software in the box.  (Subsequent versions now just redirect you to Nolo Online Trust.) Personally, I think the biggest down side to using this method is that it's a bit of a pain to rename the trust to a shorter name.  The other down side is that it's possible to mess it up so you end up with an invalid trust if you try dinking with the language and aren't careful.

Create a gun trust on your own

For people who specifically want a "Gun Trust" but they want to do it on their own, there are a couple of different options.  The first is to use a template that you find online - and the second is to use one of the new NFA Trust websites that are cropping up. In either case, you can end up with a valid NFA Trust for very little to no expense; but, you do need to be careful with this option.  With a template, for example, you really don't have any way of knowing that it is valid in your state - so it is possible that you're taking a bit of a chance. Generating an NFA Trust online, on the other hand, can be very tempting since you get a valid NFA Trust created by real lawyers - but  you don't have the expense of using a lawyer.  If you're interested in a very good online trust, be sure to check this one out.

Use a lawyer to create a generic trust

There are many people who either already have a trust; or, they have a family lawyer or lawyer friend who will create a trust for them.  For these people, what you generally end up with is a generic estate trust that was created by a lawyer - and you can fall into the same types of problems that Quicken users have because most lawyers don't understand NFA-specific issues. For these people I would advise that you read over the same guidelines that we recommend for Quicken users, and then keep these in mind when talking to your lawyer or reviewing your existing trust. I want to stress that this can be a great option if you either already have a trust or if you can get one easily or inexpensively from a known lawyer - just take the time to look it over to be sure it's going to be OK for NFA items.

Use a lawyer to create a gun trust

If I had to guess the most-used route for getting a new NFA Trust, I suspect it would be using a "Gun Trust Lawyer" - and for good reason. In my opinion, there are several advantages of using a gun trust lawyer over the other methods:
  • These lawyers are aware of NFA-specific requirements, so you don't have to worry about the trust being legal.
  • A gun trust lawyer will often get the trust done right away after you call them - so you don't have to worry about that pesky tendency to put the trust off for another day. :)
  • Peace of mind.  For many people, there is a certain peace-of-mind that comes from using a lawyer - and it's hard to put a price on that if you are the type that is going to worry after using one of the other methods.
The only real downside to using a lawyer is the cost; but, as more lawyers are getting involved in this business, the competition is driving prices down. If you do decide to use a lawyer, be sure to check out our list of gun trust lawyer referrals.


Overall, the process of setting up a trust is fairly simple & inexpensive; and, once it's done, you can use the same trust for as many silencers, short barrel rifles, short barrel shotguns, or full auto weapons as you want.  That makes it a good investment for many people! If you do have more questions about getting a trust setup, please be sure to let us know and we can help you with any additional questions you may have.

24 responses to “What’s the best way to create an NFA Trust?”

  1. brian lee says:

    i have a trust but now what do i do? Do i send it to the ATF with the serial number and what all info do i need to send with it? thank you for your time.

    • Mark Robertson says:

      If you’ve already purchased a suppressor, just forward a copy of the signed and notarized trust and we’ll take care of getting everything off to the ATF for you.

  2. says:

    I live in Alabama my Son lives in Georgia, both allow the ownership of suppressors, is it possible for us to form a trust together even though we live in different states?

    • Gary Groppe says:

      Absolutely! It is common for trusts to include trustees in different states.

      • Aflick says:

        Sure you can have people in different states within the same trust, but you can’t carry any of the items across state lines without ATF approval prior to each crossing, correct?

        • says:

          The ATF requires prior authorization after a written request to transport any destructive device, machine gun, short-barreled rifle, or short-barreled shotgun under Section 922(a)(4), The ATF does not require this prior authorization for a suppressor.

  3. Bryan Diff says:

    So I am currently setting up a trust for my SBR through a trust lawyer. Once the trust is set up and approved for the SBR what would be the process for obtaining a suppressor for that rifle and then an additional one for a handgun. I was under the impression that each suppressor you had to pay the $200 for ATF filing. However, reading the above stated I see that you said once you set up a trust you can get as many suppressors as you want under the trust? Does that mean no wait time once the trust is built and I wouldn’t have to pay $200 each time?

  4. Michael Bauerlein says:

    I already have a living trust that was drawn up by a lawyer years ago. Just wanted to put the house and other assets in there and lay out how things were to be distributed. Can an NFA Trust section be added to the existing one??

  5. matt says:

    im gonna buy a suppressor and I am gonna go the trust route, ill be moving staying in the state of (Missouri) and was curious as to will I have to get new trust done with new address or do I need to notify atf or anthing if I move? thanks for any info

  6. Nathan says:

    I currently have a trust and several NFA items under it. I may be moving to another state in the future that also allows NFA through a trust. What steps are needed prior to the move to ensure I can move everything with me to a new home?

    • says:

      The ATF requires that you complete a Form 20 – 5320.20 prior to transport of any destructive device, machine gun, short-barreled rifle, or short-barreled shotgun under Section 922(a)(4), The ATF does not require this prior authorization for a silencer. If you are just transporting silencers then you are fine without completing the form.

  7. SHACK says:

    I have a friend who forwarded me HIS gun trust that he had made by an attorney. It’s in a Word document. Would I just be able to delete his name, and the names of his trustees, and all other applicable information, and replace it with mine and that work? My other options is going with SilencerCo’s Easy Trust, but those are $129.

  8. Chris says:

    I am in the Air Force; obviously being in the military means a lot of moving around and possibly being stationed in locations and or countries that do not allow me to exercise my right to own a suppressor or firearms in general. I am currently stationed in Alaska and my parents both live in Texas. Both of these states allow the ownership of suppressors. So what I was wondering was if I could establish a trust and name both of my parents on this trust so that in the event that I were stationed overseas or in one of our wonderful Commiefornia-like states, I could leave my suppressors/other NFA items in their possession for safekeeping and enjoyment? Would the trust allow me to transport my items across state lines? Fly them from state to state?

    • says:

      Yes you could create a trust with your parents and they could hold the silencers for you. Also if you are in a friendly state then you could ship or fly with them as you would any firearm.

  9. good wedding says:

    Yes! Finally someone writes about broken marriage.

  10. Chuck Coiner says:

    I used your easytrust to buy my suppressors, thank you very much. It was easy and walked me though the complete process. I am in the process of getting my suppressors. A couple of questions. First, I want to add my other guns to the same Gun Trust. How do I do this? Can I just amend the form and have it notarized? Second, should I wait and add those “normal” guns after all the suppressors go through?

    • says:

      It doesn’t matter. You can write them in on the inventory page now or later its up to you.

      • Alex says:

        Also purchased silencershop trust and awaiting my suppressor. I’ll list on inventory sheet when it arrives.

        For next NFA purchase does the NFA care if I provide them with inventory sheet, or is Schedule A with the original $1 sufficient? I’d prefer to not have a list of my property out and about.

        • says:

          Very good question. Since the inventory sheet changes you do not have to provide a current sheet. The original will work.

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