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Totten Trusts

A Totten trust is a type of trust that arises when a person, known as the settlor, places funds into a bank account or other security with instructions to transfer the assets to a named beneficiary at the time of the settlor’s death. While this type of trust does not comply with the formalities of other types of trusts, most jurisdictions in the United States now recognize the validity of Totten trusts. Totten trusts are also known as “payable on death accounts” or “poor man’s trusts,” and are an effective way for a person who wishes to transfer property to another to do so while avoiding having the assets in the account go through probate.

As the creator of a Totten trust, you may revoke it at any time by closing the accounting or executing a valid will that disposes of the assets in the trust in some other way. It is important to note that any assets placed into a Totten trust are still accessible by your creditors during your lifetime. In this way, a Totten trust does not protect assets the same way in which other, more sophisticated trusts can.

How a Totten Trust Attorney Can Help

While being relatively simple to create, an experienced trust attorney can help you set up a Totten trust in several ways. Some of the ways an attorney may be able to help include:

  • Ensuring that the trust is correctly created
  • Assisting in identifying what assets should be held in trust for the beneficiary
  • Advising you as to any other estate planning issues that you may have
  • Exploring other estate planning options that may be more beneficial from an asset protection or tax liability perspective.

There are many other ways an experienced estate planning attorney may be able to help you protect your assets and also they pass to the intended party or parties.

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