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
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.