A Totten Trust is one that is created during the lifetime of the grantor by depositing money into an account at a financial institution in his or her name as the Trustee for another. This is a type of revocable Trust in which the gift is not completed until the grantor’s death or an unequivocal act reflecting the gift during the grantor’s lifetime. An individual or an entity can be named as the beneficiary. Upon death, Totten Trust assets avoid probate. A Totten Trust is used primarily with accounts and securities in financial institutions such as savings accounts, bank accounts, and certificates of deposit. A Totten trust cannot be used with real property. A Totten Trust provides a safer method to pass assets on to family than using joint ownership. To create a Totten Trust, the title on the account should include identifying language, such as “In Trust For”, “Payable on Death To”, “As Trustee For”, or the identifying initials for each, “IFF”, “POD”, “ATF”. If this language is not included, the beneficiary may not be identifiable. A Totten Trust has been called a “poor man’s” trust because a written trust document is typically not involved and it often costs the trustmaker nothing to establish.
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