NFA Firearms Trust

On September 2, 2011, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, issued an opinion stating “that the possession, manufacture, or sale of a firearm silencer is permitted in Michigan…if the person is licensed or approved to possess, manufacture, or sell such a device by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”), as required by MCL 750.224 (3)(c).” Opinion No. 7260, Sept. 2, 2011. One such way of achieving licensing is by acquiring your Title 2 weapon, also known as a Class 3 firearm, or silencing device (“NFA Weapon”) with a trust. Clark Hill PLC’s Personal Legal Services group is well aware of the requirements and benefits of using a trust to acquire your next NFA Weapon. Such benefits include:

  1. Protection Against Inadvertent Violations of the National Firearms Act. Under the National Firearms Act (hereinafter the “Act”), 26 U.S.C 5861 (2011), possession, either actual or constructive, rather than ownership is punishable. Constructive possession exists when a person knowingly has the power at a given time to exercise dominion and control over an object, either directly or through others.  In the event of a violation under the Act any person, upon conviction, may be fined up to $10,000, or be imprisoned up to ten years, or both. 26 U.S.C. 5871 (2011). Further any NFA Weapon involved in any violation of the Act shall be subject to seizure and forfeiture. 26 U.S.C. 5871 (2011). Although the fine specified in the statute is an amount not exceeding $10,000, as of October 12, 2011, an amendment to Federal law provides for a fine of not more than $250,000 in the case of an individual or $500,000 in the case of an organization. 18 U.S.C. 3571 (b) and (c) (2011). If a trust is registered as the transferee with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (hereinafter “NFRTR”), all of the trustees named in the trust may use or possess the NFA Weapon without running afoul of the Act.
  2. Minimizes Transfer Fees. Under 26 U.S.C. § 5811 a $200 transfer tax is paid on every transfer of a NFA Weapon. The term transfer is broadly defined by the Act to include “selling, assigning, pledging, leasing, loaning, giving away, or otherwise disposing of an NFA firearm.” 26 U.S.C. § 5845(j) (2011). The lawful transfer of an NFA Weapon requires the filing of an appropriate transfer form with the ATF (Form 4), payment of any transfer tax imposed ($200), approval of the form by the ATF, and registration of the NFA Weapon to the transferee in the NFRTR. By using a trust qualifying individuals may be named as trustees of the trust, entitling the trustees to possess or use the NFA Weapon without paying the $200 transfer tax.
  3. Provides Privacy. Ordinarily when transferring NFA Weapons to individuals other than FFLs, the transferees’ fingerprints and photograph must accompany Form 4. In addition, an individual transferee must have an appropriate law enforcement official execute the certification on the form. Id. The requirements for fingerprints, photographs, and the law enforcement certificate specified in 27 CFR 479.85 are not applicable to a transferee who is a trust.
  4. Probate Avoidance. The use of a trust to hold and manage your NFA Weapon provides flexibility, privacy, probate avoidance, and incapacity planning.


Eric Dorkin, MacKenzie Hyde and Ray Koenig obtained a significant victory in the 1st District Appellate Court. In a case of first impression, the Illinois Appellate Court granted Clark Hill’s emergency appeal in favor of Nina L., a minor seeking to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status to stay in the United States following her 18th birthday.  The trial court had denied Nina L.’s request for the judicial findings necessary for her to apply to remain in the United States after being abandoned by her natural parents.  The trial court held that it was not proper for it to enter findings pursuant to federal statute.  The Appellate Court reversed and entered the required findings itself on an emergency basis so that Nina L. could timely file the required documents with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as her 18th birthday was just days away.  

As reported in the local legal press, “This is a case that really mattered,” said Dorkin, who represented Nina L. “If the case was decided the other way, she was going back to Taiwan with no known family or connections and just a high school degree, and I think that’s a recipe for lifelong disaster.”

Estate of Donald Howell v. Donald Brenard Howell, 2015 IL App (1st) 133247 and 1140810 (cons.)

The Raymond W. Pontarelli Trust, et al. v. Michael Pontarelli, et al., 2015 IL App (1st) 133138

In re Estate of Leonard Koenen, 2014 IL App (1st) 140080-U

In re Guardianship of Florence Pontarelli, 2014 IL App (1st) 122782-U

Represented client in formation of a Family LLC to leverage discounts available to pass family wealth to second and more remote generations while minimizing estate and gift taxes

Represented multiple clients in “second home planning” for properties on Lake Michigan and inland lakes in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois

Represented high net worth clients in the negotiation and implementation of pre-nuptial agreements

Represented client in three-way commercial closing in excess of $7 million dollars 

Represented executor in negotiation and approval of a multi-million dollar wrongful-death settlement, including a partial sealing of the court file in order to secure settlement confidentiality requirement

Representing the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit and the American Red Cross in separate will and trust contests in Oakland County Probate Court

Successfully representing Comerica Bank in a complex will and trust contest in the Wayne County Probate Court

Obtaining a favorable settlement on behalf of two beneficiaries of a substantial family trust against Standard Federal Bank and one of the largest Michigan law firms in a case involving breach of the prudent investor rule and breach of fiduciary duties in the management of a hedge fund which stuffed its gain to the trust

Creation of special needs trusts.
Represented financial institutions in Orphans Court matters involving trustee's alleged breach of fiduciary duty
Counseling of high net worth families regarding issues associated with multi-generational wealth transfers.
Sixty-Six Clark Hill Attorneys Named 2017 Michigan Super Lawyers & Rising StarsSeventy-Four Clark Hill Attorneys Selected for Inclusion in the 2018 Edition of Best Lawyers in America Clark Hill Attorney Nicholas E. Papasifakis Published in Spring 2017 Michigan Probate & Estate Planning Journal Clark Hill Attorneys Mallory A. Kallabat and Nicholas E. Papasifakis to Present at Walled Lake Consolidated Schools Staff Financial Fair on May 10, 2017Clark Hill Attorney Ray J. Koenig III to Present at ICLE 60th Annual Estate Planning Short Course in May 2017Clark Hill Attorneys Ray J. Koenig III and Ryan M. Holmes to Present at DuPage County Estate Planning Council Meeting on April 12, 2017Clark Hill Announces Attorneys Elected to Membership, Promotions to Senior AttorneyClark Hill Attorney Chris S. Hopkins Selected into the Chicago Bar Association Leadership InstituteSeventeen Clark Hill Attorneys Named to the 2017 Illinois Super Lawyers & Rising Stars List Clark Hill PLC Receives National Rankings in the 2017 Edition of U.S. News-Best Lawyers, “Best Law Firms”Twenty-Eight Clark Hill Attorneys Named to DBusiness Magazine's 2017 Top Lawyers ListClark Hill Attorney Ray J. Koenig III to Speak on “Disabled Persons: Planning for and Implementation of Special Needs Trusts & Guardianship” at the Fall Chicago Estate Planning Council Luncheon Clark Hill Attorneys Paul Magy, James Waggoner, Anne-Marie Vercruysse Welch, and Mallory Kallabat to Present a Legal Update at BOMA Brown Bag Series Seminar September 13, 2016Sixty Clark Hill Attorneys Named 2016 Michigan Super Lawyers & Rising Stars Clark Hill Attorney Ryan M. Holmes to Present at Michigan Association of CPAs Small Firm Practitioners Conference August 19, 2016 Clark Hill Attorney Ray J. Koenig III Received the Vernita Gray Lifetime Achievement AwardTwenty-Six Clark Hill Attorneys Named to Pennsylvania Super Lawyers & Rising Stars 2016 ListClark Hill Attorney Ryan M. Holmes Named to Bounce Emerging Leaders BoardClark Hill Attorney Ray J. Koenig III Co-Authored the Guardianship Litigation Chapter in IICLE’s 2016 Edition of the “Litigation Disputed Estates, Trusts, Guardianships and Charitable Bequests.” Clark Hill Attorney Thomas E. F. Fabbri Spoke on Panel for State Bar of Michigan Young Tax Lawyers Committee on March 22, 2016Clark Hill Attorneys Ray J. Koenig III and MacKenzie A. Hyde Presented “Dealing with Behavioral Disorders Exhibited by Clients and Beneficiaries” for the Greater North Shore Estate & Financial Planning Council Sixty-Six Clark Hill Attorneys Selected for the 2015 Super Lawyers Business EditionTwenty-Eight Clark Hill Attorneys Named to DBusiness Magazine's 2016 Top Lawyers ListClark Hill PLC Receives National Tier 1 Ranking for Litigation – Construction in the 2016 Edition of U.S. News-Best Lawyers, “Best Law Firms”Sixty-Five Clark Hill Attorneys Named to Michigan Super Lawyers 2015 ListClark Hill Attorney Ray J. Koenig III Quoted in Windy City Times About Recent Supreme Court Decision on Same Sex Couples and Their Families Clark Hill PLC Receives National and Metropolitan Tier 1 Rankings in the 2016 Edition of Best Lawyers in America's “Best Law Firms”Sixty-Two Clark Hill Attorneys Selected for Inclusion in the 2016 Edition of Best Lawyers in AmericaClark Hill Attorney Ray J. Koenig III to Present at Citywide Pride Event “To Have & To Hold” Same Sex Marriage after Obergefell v. Hodges July 28, 2015 in Chicago, ILClark Hill Attorneys Ray J. Koenig III, MacKenzie A. Hyde and Eric Dorkin to Present at the IICLE® Powers of Attorney and Guardianship SeminarRayndon Law Group Joins Clark Hill PLC Phoenix Personal Legal Services Attorney Tim J. Emmitt Joins Clark Hill Chicago Chicago Attorney Ryan M. Holmes Published in ExpertBeacon on Tax and Estate IssuesClark Hill PLC Continues to Grow as Five New Additions Join the Chicago TeamClark Hill Attorney Ray J. Koenig III to Present on the Financial and Estate Planning Ramifications of Marriage EqualityClark Hill Attorney Ray J. Koenig III to Present at the 57th Annual IICLE® Estate Planning Short CourseChicago Attorney Ryan M. Holmes Joins Clark HillClark Hill Attorney Ray J. Koenig III to Present on Estate Planning and Charitable Giving to Michigan State University Alumni– May 8 & 9Clark Hill Attorneys Ray J. Koenig III and MacKenzie A. Hyde to Present at the National Business Institute “Resolving Estate, Will and Trust Contests” Seminar – Feb. 25Clark Hill Attorney Abbie Shindler to present The “New Normal of Estate Planning” at the Country Club at DC Ranch – Dec. 13Clark Hill PLC Attorney Thomas F. Sweeney Named Chair Elect of the Probate and Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of MichiganClark Hill Attorney Ray J. Koenig III to Present on the Confident Modern Family: Strategies for LGBTQ Individuals, Couples and FamiliesClark Hill Chicago Attorneys Ray J. Koenig III and Leslie Gutierrez Published a Chapter in Litigating Disputed Estates, Trusts, Guardianships, and Charitable Bequests 2012 EditionClark Hill Attorney Ray J. Koenig to Present to Chicago Bar Association on “Successful Estate Planning In & Out of Court”Clark Hill Attorney Thomas F. Sweeney to be Panelist at “Cross-border Tax Issues and Planning Opportunities” SeminarAttorney Thomas F. Sweeney Elected to Second term on Probate and Estate Planning Council
Insight on Estate Planning (vol. 4) - August/September 2017"Wrongful Death Claims: An Overview for Probate Attorneys" by Nicolas E. Papasifakis for the Spring 2017 Michigan Probate & Estate Planning JournalInsight on Estate Planning (vol. 3) - June/July 2017Insight on Estate Planning (vol. 2) - April/May 2017Darra Rayndon Quoted in "Americans Are Dying With an Average of $62K of Debt,", March 2017"A Guide for Challenging a Joint Account Arrangement" by Thomas Fabbri, Mallory Kallabat, Jonathan Martone, and Nicholas Papasifakis for JD Supra, March 2017Relationships & the Law Today "Newly Enacted Responsibilities of a Guardian Making Personal Decisions for a Disabled Person in Illinois" - February 15, 2017Insight on Estate Planning (vol. 1) - February/March 2017Insight on Estate Planning (vol. 6) - Year End 2016Insight on Estate Planning (vol. 5) - October/November 2016Insight on Estate Planning (vol. 4) - August/September 2016Michelle Margolies Tran Quoted in Kiplinger: A Better Way to Leave Behind Your IRA - July 2016Insight on Estate Planning (vol. 3) - June/July 2016Relationships & the Law Today "Estate Planning 101: The Must Haves" - May 18, 2016Insight on Estate Planning (vol. 2) - April/May 2016Insight on Estate Planning (vol. 1) - February/March 2016Insight on Estate Planning (vol. 6) - Year End 2015Insight on Estate Planning (vol. 5) - October/November 2015The Importance of Estate PlanningInsight on Estate Planning (vol. 4) - August/September 2015What Every Estate Planner Should Know About Undue Influence: Recognizing It, Insulating/Planning Against It…. And Litigating It - Bloomberg BNA Tax Management Memorandum - July 2015Confronting Undue Influence in your Practice? Industry experts weigh in on how to take an increasingly pervasive issue - Trusts & Estates; The Wealth Journal - July 2015Insight on Estate Planning (vol. 3) - June/July 2015Leaving an Inheritance: Published by The Office of Gift Planning: The University of Chicago Spring 2015 EditionInsight on Estate Planning (vol. 2) - April/May 2015Insight on Estate Planning (vol. 1) - February/March 2015Defending Your Principals: Suing Agents Under the Revised Illinois Power of Attorney Act By Ray Koenig & MacKenzie Hyde in Illinois Bar JournalInside the Minds - Trusts and Probate Litigation By Ray Koenig in Inside the Minds – Published by Aspatore Books Couples Planning and the New Civil Liberties Act By Ray Koenig & MacKenzie Hyde in Windy City TimesMI Child Care Power of AttorneyMI Statutory Will FormProbable Cause Exception to the Enforcement of Will and Trust In Terrorem Clauses: Determining the Factors in Applying the Exception and Considering Opportunities for an Early Determination of Whether the Exception Has Been Satisfied - January 2013Trusts and Probate Litigation: Leading Lawyers on Managing Client Expectations, Handling Complex Cases, and Navigating Recent Legal DevelopmentsEstate-Planning, Other Implications of the Civil Union LawHow Civil Union Law Would Work: Illinois Senate Vote Seals the Deal on Historic Legislation, Which Now Goes to the Governor
Estate Planning in 2016 — What Is Trending?, with Darra Rayndon by the Legal Broadcast NetworkEstate Planning Tips Everyone Should Know, Darra Rayndon Explains By The Legal Broadcast Network