What is a Gun Trust? 3 Helpful Facts for Beginners

If you are considering investing in an NFA firearm or item, you might be wondering just what a gun trust is and why you should establish one for yourself. Setting one up is actually easier than you think and will benefit you in many ways. 

Getting approval, however, can take some time. Anyone who has gone through the process will tell you that it’s anything but fast. The ATF can take several months to approve your National Firearms Act item or items.

In fact, NFA wait times from the ATF are quite the source of contention for many folks. As aggravating as it is, it’s still a necessary part of getting approved to carry and possess NFA items.

Before we talk about what is a gun trust and why you should invest in one, let’s take a moment to discuss NFA wait times so you have a better understanding as to why your approval is likely to take some time.

A Quick Word About NFA Wait Times

To better determine current NFA wait times, we observed several ATF forms filed for various reasons. On average, ATF Form 4 applications take between 250 to 370 days to complete their approval process. 

An individual Form 4 is usually transferred 2 months earlier compared to that of trusts. Since we’re focusing on NFA trusts, this is important to know. You should expect your application approval process to take a bit longer.

It’s also important to note that Form 4 is a request. Other forms, like ATF Form 1, are also for requests, but the action is vastly different. Form 1 is for the approval to manufacture your own firearm.

Form 4, on the other hand, is for the purpose of buying and transferring an established NFA item. For whatever reason, the approval process takes longer when transferring NFA items to a trust.

Why Do They Take So Long?

As we just discussed, ATF Form 1 is used whenever you want to make your own firearm, whereas Form 3 is used whenever there is a transfer between the dealer and manufacturer. And finally, ATF Form 4 is used when transferring an NFA item from the dealer to the buyer.

How you file your ATF paperwork also plays a role in the approval process. Obviously, filing electronically will speed things up to some degree. If you file your paperwork by snail mail, you should expect things to take a bit longer.

If you’re using Form 1 to create your own NFA firearm or item, those named within the application will need to be verified and have a criminal background performed. Once again, filing electronically will expedite things, but the process still needs to take place to complete approval.

What’s more, since Form 1 is for manufacturing a firearm, there isn’t any existing data that needs to be entered or verified. Therefore, this application is faster than others.

Depending on the age of the NFA item in question, there may be extensive research needed to verify it. This, too, can cause delays outside of the usual approval time.

Current NFA Wait Times

When looking at what is a gun trust wait time, you have to first consider the various ATF forms, as they can affect the total time that it takes for the ATF to grant approval. Form 4 has the longest wait time due to its in-depth processing time. And since this is the form you’re going to be using when establishing your NFA trust, you can expect it to take a while to complete. 

While it’s possible to check the status of your application using NFA Tracker, that’s about all you can do. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything to make the approval process go any faster than it is. 

With that being said, you can ensure that there aren’t any unnecessary delays in the approval of your application. This includes making doubly sure that everything is filled out factually and correctly. 

If at all possible, you should download your ATF forms. This will allow you to fill out each box using your computer. Illegible content could certainly cause delays if written by hand. This is avoided when using a computer to type out your answers and information.

You should also file electronically as often as possible. Now, here comes the rub with ATF Form 4: you can’t file it electronically. At least, not yet. This is scheduled to change sometime in the future. 

But as for now, you’ll have to send it in the “old fashioned” way. With an average wait time of 1 year, ATF Form 4 is going to take some time. There isn’t any way around it. The good news is that the wait is well worth it. 

Why? Because of the benefits and protection that you get when setting up a gun trust. What is a gun trust? Let’s talk about what is a gun trust and why you should seriously consider investing in one for your weaponry.

1. What Is a Gun Trust?

So, what is a gun trust (also known as a NFA trust) exactly? A gun trust is simply a lawful agreement that lets you transfer, possess, and carry a Title II firearm that is protected under the National Firearms Act.

What is a gun trust firearm, you ask? Let’s have a look. The National Firearms Act states that items that fall within this code are: 

Now that you know what is a gun trust item, let’s discuss why you actually need a gun trust. For starters, a gun trust lets you add trustees to your trust. This can come in handy, as it lets you name another person or persons of your choosing whom you are allowing to possess your NFA weapon under law.

And since your firearm is in a trust, it is legally protected if you were to pass away. By establishing a trustee to take possession of your NFA items, you won’t have to worry about them going to someone else.

2. What is a Gun Trust – All The Benefits

There are actually several. Let’s go into more detail on trustees and the other advantages so you have a better understanding of what is a gun trust and how it can protect your firearms.

What Is a Gun Trust Trustee?

What is a gun trust trustee? This is a trusted individual of your choosing who has the ability to carry and possess your regulated firearms. This is a benefit that you don’t see with unregulated firearms. You never know what can happen to where you would need to entrust your NFA weapon to another person.

With unregulated firearms, only you are allowed to legally carry them. If someone else gets caught with your weapon, you could both have legal battles to face.

But when you have trustees named on your gun trust, this becomes a non-issue. What’s more, the gun trust allows you to make changes to the trust agreement. And if you so desire, you can even void the trust any time you wish.

So, if you have trustees whom you wish to remove and those who wish to add at a later date, a gun trust lets you do this relatively easily. 

This is one of the most important factors for gun owners. The threat of legal ramifications is eliminated when a gun trust is in place. Those whom you want to use your weapons can legally do so without fear of getting into legal trouble. 

Have a friend or family who wants to take your firearm on a hunting trip? No problem. Knowing what is a gun trust and having one established makes this possible. You can freely let your trustees possess and carry your Title II firearms without issue.

It’s important to note that your NFA items must stay in the state in which they are registered. If Uncle Bob wants to take your Short-Barreled Rifle on a hunting trip in Colorado and your SBR is registered in Ohio, you’ve got a problem.

As such, it is crucial that you follow and abide by the rules and regulations set forth in the gun trust. Failure to adhere to these laws could result in your trust being revoked and your NFA items being taken from you.

What Is a Gun Trust Estate Plan?

Estate planning is important if you unexpectedly pass away. Having a gun trust in place lets you name beneficiaries who can take over your arsenal if you were to die. It’s important that you name an alternate trustee whom you want to legally manage your trust in the event that you pass away.

You will have the peace of mind knowing that your NFA items are going to go to a person of your choosing and not be stuck in legal limbo. Your collection will be safe and it will save your heirs a lot of legal issues after your passing. 

What often happens when a gun owner dies who doesn’t have a gun trust is that there isn’t an estate representative who can legally manage their property. And if the heir can’t qualify to do so for any reason, things become even more challenging. 

Having a gun trust in place avoids such potentialities. No longer will you have to worry about where or to whom your firearms will go after you pass away. There have sadly been too many stories of people losing their entire family collection just because sufficient protection wasn’t in place. 

It’s best to be proactive in your planning and take advantage of a gun trust for your family. This will ensure fewer hassles for them if something happens to you or you become incapacitated and can no longer take care of your collection. 

Not only will you have protection, but you will have plenty of privacy, to boot! Read on to find out what kind of privacy a gun trust affords you and why it’s important.

What Is a Gun Trust and Privacy?

Another huge advantage of owning a gun trust is the fact that it protects your privacy. What is a gun trust without protection? With a gun trust, all information about your firearms is kept private. Only you and those named on the trust will know what kind of weaponry you own.

Why is this important and how is it possible? Firstly, gun trusts aren’t subject to probate. As such, any firearms that are owned through a trust aren’t listed on your probate estate. You can also rely on a gun trust to protect your collection so that it is preserved for your family.

Imagine if your firearms were preserved for a hundred years? Think of the potential value that could help carry on the future generations of your family name?

As far as keeping your firearms a secret, this could really be beneficial for a number of reasons. If things were to go any further south in the country than what they already are, it would be very prudent that others aren’t capable of finding out what kind of weaponry you own.

If things get bad enough, don’t think that someone wouldn’t want to gain access to your firearms to protect their families. Hopefully, the world never gets to that point. Regardless, it’s better to be prepared for it than to not be.

What Is a Tax Stamp?

The final major advantage to having a gun trust is that it’s affordable. You might be wondering, “what is a gun trust tax stamp?” For most NFA items, the cost is $200. However, items that fall under AOW (Any Other Weapon) are only $5. If you ever want to move these NFA items into a trust after the fact, it’ll cost you another $200. Even if you aren’t 100% sure you’d want to do that in the future, it’ll save you $200 per NFA item you possess if you set up the gun trust initially.

3. What Is a Gun Trust Approval Process Like?

Alright. You’ve decided to move forward with a gun trust. What is a gun trust turnaround like? Well, you’re going to have to first file your ATF paperwork. If you recall from the beginning of the article, you will need to obtain ATF Form 4 and fill it out.

Once it is sent in through the mail (eForms are currently unavailable for Form 4), the ATF will get around to reviewing the information that you provided in the form and will eventually make a decision.

If your application gets approved, you will be one step closer to your gun trust. What is a gun trust like when you get it online? If you choose to set up your trust online, you can potentially save hundreds of dollars.

Filling out the forms from Gun Trust NFA takes only minutes. The lengthiest part of the entire process will be waiting to receive your approval from the ATF. 

After you have filled out your online trust information, you will simply need to download the trust document after Gun Trust NFA emails it to you. Once received, print it out and wait for your ATF approval. After you finally get your ATF tax stamps forms, you’ll just need to have your trust notarized and attach your ATF form to it. 

But what about actually establishing a gun trust? What is a gun trust price online? The best part about choosing to do an online gun trust is that it’s so affordable. If you decide to let a lawyer handle your trust, you’re going to be spending about $500 on their services. If you use Gun Trust NFA for your gun trust needs, the cost for the trust is just $99. We recommend that you save as much as you can and create your trust online.

Checking the Status of Your NFA Item

You have all of your paperwork sent in and you have the appropriate online trust documents from us. Now what? You’ve been waiting and waiting but you still haven’t heard anything back on your ATF application.

What is a gun trust wait time usually like? Remember, since you’re using ATF Form 4, it can potentially take up to a year to hear back. But you’re not completely in the dark. By using NFA Tracker, you can get an idea of the status of your application so you’ll know what kind of timeframe to expect.

What is a gun trust application tracker, exactly? Using this tool, you can see when your check was cashed through the ATF and if your application has been approved. It’s easy to get impatient when you’re waiting on approval from the ATF. But at least you have a helping hand via the tracker that gives you some clues about the approval process.

What is a Gun Trust – Wrap Up

We hope we have helped you better understand what is a gun trust and how it can benefit you. It’s important to know what to expect from the ATF once you have submitted your application. Just keep in mind that it’s going to take a while and that your application is no different.

The key is to be patient. While there’s isn’t a whole lot that you can do in the meantime, you can at least get started on your trust so that it’s ready to get notarized once your approval comes back. Be sure to explore our other blog entries, too. In addition to learning more about what is a gun trust, you’ll also find a wealth of information about gun trusts, NFA items, the ATF, and a whole lot more.