What if I move?

The NFA transfer process takes time, and in today’s world a lot can happen in nine months. Clients commonly ask me what happens if they move out of state while a transfer is pending approval. Well, if properly prepared for, the move won’t affect the transfer. If not prepared for then you will have to start over.

The ATF is unforgiving. An individual buying a NFA Firearm in South Carolina will not be able to take possession of the firearm in nine months if they become a resident of State B in the meantime. This scenario will require cancelling the first form 4 transfer and having the FFL, via form 5, transfer the firearm to an FFL in the individual’s new state of residence.

However, the use of a trust changes the scenario. As long as one trustee remains in South Carolina, that trustee can take possession of the firearm once the transfer is approved. That trustee can then use a form 20 to change the registered address of the trust and the firearm. Once the form 20 is submitted, the trustee may move the firearm to the location allowed for in the form 20.

This greatly increases the convenience of purchasing a firearm and removes the unknown possibility of a move. Furthermore, trustees can be added or removed as needed, and a trusted friend can help you relocate your firearm to your new state. If you want to purchase a NFA firearm, but a possible move is in your future, contact me about the possibility of using a trust to get started immediately.

Manufacturing via a Form 1

Many times I am asked about how a trust (or the settlor) can change an AR-15 rifle into a legal Short-Barreled Rifle (SBR). The process is easy, albeit long and exact.

If your Trust wishes to manufacture a NFA firearm rather than purchase one, it will need to file a Form 1. The Form 1 must be filed, approved, and returned before manufacturing (i.e. converting) the firearm. The fee for the Form 1 filing is $200.

The Form 1, which can be found on the BATFE webiste, must be submitted with a copy of the trust and assignment sheet, a certification of US citizenship for the submitting trustee, and a check to cover the transfer tax. Unfortunately, you should expect to wait nine or so months currently to have the form approved.

For Form 4 transfers I advise trustees to leave the item off of the trust assignment sheet until the BATFE approves the transfer. However for Form 1 manufacturing the title 1 firearm (or block of steel / aluminum if you are really ambitious!) can, and should, be assigned to the trust before manufacturing begins. (Arguably this could be at any time, but I suggest assigning the firearm before submitting the Form 1).

Once you have received the approved Form 1 and begin manufacturing the firearm you must engrave the firearm with the caliber or gauge, make, model, name of the manufacturer, i.e. the Trust, and city, state in which the manufacturer is located. You should use the full name of the trust rather than abbreviations. The BATFE currently requires a minimum depth of .003 inches for the engraving, but I caution anyone manufacturing to verify the current requirements to manufacture before pursuing a Form 1. Due to the exactness of engraving requirements, I highly recommend taking your firearm to a Class III licensed manufacturer to have the engraving completed.

It is worth noting that the manufacture of machineguns for civilian use has been illegal since May 19, 1986, and the BATFE will not approve any request to manufacture a machinegun. (In the event the ATF does mistakenly approve such a form, they will confiscate the firearm once they realize what has happened.)

As always, if you find yourself confused or need of guidance, reach out to someone with experience. It will make the process much simpler!

Who Should Be a Trustee?

I am often asked ‘who should be a Trustee of my trust?’ The obvious answer, whomever you wish, does not provide much guidance to the would be NFA firearm purchaser.

The reality is that not much guidance is needed. I strongly encourage that all adults living in the household with the settlor, regardless of whether or not they will ever possess the item, be listed as Trustees. This prevents any potential constructive possession arguments and allows the settlor to share keys and safe access with those he lives with. Normally this consists of a spouse and possibly adult children or parents.

If the settlor lives alone, or only with minors, then I would suggest listing a close relative as a Trustee. Normally this duty should fall to the person who will take care of your estate if something happens to you. In these instances parents or siblings are likely to be first choice, but it can be anyone responsible and of age.

If the trust is established with minor beneficiaries, I suggest adding the potential guardians as either Trustees or Successor Trustees. These are the people who would take care of the children and would have to manage the property for the children until they reach majority. It should go without saying that a minor shouldn’t have free rein to a machine gun, but as someone who grew up with firearms I understand when a client doesn’t have that initial thought about a suppressor.

The last group of people one might wish to add as Trustees are close friends that you would trust to borrow your firearms. Many times this includes siblings and adult children already mentioned above, but some of us are fortunate enough to having a hunting or shooting friend whom we would let borrow anything. Unless that friend is listed as a Trustee, they cannot possess, and therefore cannot borrow, a NFA registered firearm. So, if you have any thoughts of letting someone access or borrow your firearm, list them as a Trustee. (It is worth remembering, that just because someone is a Trustee does not mean you have to let them borrow the firearm.)

In summary, anyone who may access, possess, or borrow the firearm without you or another Trustee present should be listed as a Trustee. It is as simple as that. If you still have questions and are in South Carolina, give me a call, and I will be happy to discuss with you.