What Happens When a Settlor Dies in a NFA Gun Trust?

When the settlor dies the items in the gun trust are passed down to the beneficiaries.  The items in the gun trust don't go through the probate process.  The items in the gun trust are distributed as laid out in the gun trust beneficiary page.  If there is one beneficiary, everything in the gun trust will go to the sole beneficiary.  If there is a split, then the items will be distributed per the percentage split.  It is worth noting that the beneficiaries are only allowed to the possess the items in the gun trust if they are of legal age to own them and meet all of the requirements of the ATF.   

Beneficiaries can transfer the NFA firearms to themselves or a gun trust that they have created through the ATF Form 5 - Application for Tax Exempt Transfer and Registration of Firearm (ATF Form 5320.5).

Terminology used in this article is below. 


The settlor is the person creating the gun trust.  The settlor of the gun trust is also considered to be a trustee.

Successor Trustee

The successor trustee has in charge of the trust upon the death of the settlor and the co-trustees.  In a gun trust you must appoint a successor trustee.  The successor trustee can play two roles, meaning the successor trustee can also be a beneficiary in the gun trust.  The successor trustee is not an active citizen in the gun trust. Therefore, the successor trustee is not allowed use the NFA firearms.  They are not required to submit photo cards, fingerprint cards and the responsible persons questionnaire.  

Beneficiary - Beneficiaries 

The beneficiary or beneficiaries of the gun trust are the citizens who will own the NFA items upon death of the settlor.  The beneficiaries must meet all of the current requirements of a responsible person in order for the beneficiary to legally own the NFA firearms. You can designate how many items in the gun trust go to each beneficiary or you can designate a percentage.  The beneficiaries are not active members of the gun trust.



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