Legal Insurance

What Is a Totten Trust?

3 min read
Dec 05, 2022

Totten trusts are a type of bank account that allow assets to be transferred to a beneficiary after the depositor’s death. The depositor acts as a trustee for the beneficiary, who is named when the account is opened. Totten trusts are also called tentative trusts or payable-on-death bank accounts.

How does a Totten trust work?

Opening a Totten trust is as easy as going to the bank and filling out some paperwork. The most important information you’ll provide is the name of the account’s beneficiary. This is who you want your assets to go to. They can be family, a close friend, or an organization.

The beneficiary won’t have access to the funds while you’re still alive. As the trustee, you retain complete control over a Totten trust account. This means you can move money in and out of it, change the beneficiary, or close the account if you wish.

Can a Totten trust be revoked?

There are three ways a Totten trust can be revoked:

  • You (the depositor) remove all assets from the account.
  • The intended beneficiary dies before collecting the trust’s assets.
  • You give explicit written instruction to close the account during your lifetime.

In general, Totten trusts are easier to adjust or close than other types of trusts. Because they’re managed entirely by a bank, all you need to do is submit the right forms.

What are the benefits of Totten trusts?

You might want to use a Totten trust if you’re trying to avoid probate. This is the process by which wills are validated and assets are distributed. On average, probate lasts 12 months. However, complications with the estate can draw probate out and result in more court fees.

Totten trusts typically circumvent probate. Once you’ve passed away, the assets are transferred directly to the beneficiary. This is handled by the bank, which means there’s no need for validation of the account.

Overall, Totten trusts are an easy way to manage your estate. Once you’ve provided your bank with the paperwork, they’ll handle the rest when the time comes. You can also easily adjust the trust by simply informing your bank of the changes you’d like to make.

Should you set up a Totten trust?

Totten trusts are a quick and easy way to make sure your assets go to your beneficiaries. The best way to know if a Totten trust is right for you is to speak with an estate planning attorney. They can help you decide how to best distribute your assets.

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This article is intended to provide general information about insurance. It does not describe any Metropolitan Life Insurance company product or feature.

Group legal plans are administered by MetLife Legal Plans, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio. In California, this entity operates under the name MetLife Legal Insurance Services. In certain states, group legal plans are provided through insurance coverage underwritten by Metropolitan General Insurance Company, Warwick, RI. Payroll deduction required for group legal plans. For costs and complete details of the coverage, call or write the company.