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What Happens to Your Suppressor When You’re Gone?

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What Happens to Your Suppressor When You’re Gone?

Ashlee Lundvall

Ashlee Lundvall

Ashlee Lundvall researched the topic of what happens to your suppressor after you die, and suggests several valuable resources to help you make the right decisions regarding your estate. We must preface this blog post and point out that it is not legal advice. However, it’s a good place to start before you seek the advice of a reputable family trust lawyer. ~BB

US Department of Justice Form 4.

You’ve filled out all of the paperwork. You’ve paid the $200 tax. You’ve passed the background check. You are the proud owner of a brand new suppressor. Congratulations! All of the hard work is over. Or is it? What happens to your suppressor when you pass away? Can you pass it down to other family members?

The short answer is yes, you can put your suppressors and any other NFA item in a will. If you don’t have a will, the person who takes over your estate can inherit them or pass them along to the correct person. Whether you file your NFA items as a trust or individual, passing down your suppressors is the same. The receiver will need to fill out the necessary paperwork to transfer ownership.

ATF Form 5
ATF Form 5

Individual Ownership

If you file as an individual, you and only you can handle the suppressor. If you own the suppressor as an individual, and you pass away, you can name a beneficiary for the can in your will. Upon your death, the beneficiary will need to begin the process of applying for ownership of the suppressor, just as you did originally. To do this, they will  complete ATF Form 5, which is an “Application for Tax Exempt Transfer and Registration of a Firearm,” which is used “to apply the tax-exempt transfer of an unserviceable (welded) firearm to anyone other than a federal firearms licensee who has paid the required special (occupational) tax to deal in National Firearms Act (NFA) firearms and to or from government agencies.”

If completed and approved, the beneficiary becomes the new legal owner of the suppressor. In the meantime, the silencer is held by the executor of the will. If the beneficiary does not pass the screening, or does not wish to own the suppressor, it may be turned back over to the ATF.

Trust Ownership

If you choose to register through a trust, you can name “responsible parties” who can use your suppressor without you being present. If you choose to amend your trust by adding or removing names, you will need to fill out an Amendment, and, if adding a person, they will need to sign a Trustee’s Acknowledgement Form. There are many online sources for access to these forms, including SilencerShop, but if you have additional questions, always contact an attorney.

With a trust, the suppressor actually belongs to the trust. If the trust creator passes away, the silencer will pass into the possession of the trustee(s) listed on the documentation in most cases. While creating the trust, you will need to name a successor trustee and/or beneficiary. Their roles, and whether or not they are considered responsible persons, determines the ownership and usership of the suppressor in question.


Last will and testament

Regardless of how you originally purchased your suppressor, the individual taking ownership after your death must meet the qualifications of any suppressor owner:

  • Be at least 21 years of age to purchase a suppressor from a dealer
  • Be at least 18 years of age to purchase a suppressor from an individual on a Form 4 to Form 4 transfer (contingent on state laws)
  • Be at least 18 years of age to possess a suppressor as a responsible person of a trust or as a member of a corporation (contingent on state laws). (Additionally, persons at least 18 years of age can purchase on a form 4, from individual to trust, or individual to individual.)
  • Be a resident of the United States
  • Be legally eligible to purchase a firearm
  • Pass a BATFE background check with a typical process time of 8 to 10 months
  • Pay a one-time $200 Transfer Tax
  • Reside in one of the 42 states that currently allows civilian ownership of suppressors

If you have purchased a suppressor as an individual and you would like to transfer it to a trust, this can be done using the same process as selling a suppressor, with the individual being the “seller” and the trust being the “purchaser.” ATF Form 4 will need to be filled out and the original steps of ownership will also need to be taken for legal transfer.

Legal Documents signing

Although this topic can seem daunting and confusing, it is important to understand the process in order to legally pass down your NFA items. By dealing with this subject now, you will be saving your beneficiaries the headache of sorting it out after your death.

As always, if you have questions about forms and/or the legal process of anything related to owning a suppressor, please contact an attorney.

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