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A better alternative for the secret paramour or child is the Totten trust. Millions of bank accounts are actually Totten trusts, which are simply a form of pay-on-death account.

Traditional trusts are a great tool for transferring assets to one’s heirs. But for those who find themselves in precarious situations regarding paramours or secret children, there are also some unusual trusts that might be included in the estate plan. Forbes recently published an article, Six Trusts For The Person Who Has Everything Else, that highlights the Totten Trust as an easy step to take that can save your beneficiaries time and money by avoiding probate court. To create a Totten trust/POD account or to convert an existing savings or checking account into one, simply complete and return the bank paperwork and name the POD beneficiary. There, that’s it.


The article says the Totten Trust’s name doesn’t come from the fact that they are established for tiny tots (though many are), but following a New York court case from 1904 (Matter of Totten) where this trust arrangement was first approved.

While the depositor is still living, he or she has compete control of the account and can spend all of the funds and change beneficiaries however he or she may choose. The beneficiaries have no rights until the depositor dies. Forbes explains that a Totten trust can be “a useful way to keep otherwise ungrateful heirs in line, for fear of becoming former heirs.”

So secret paramour or not, visit with your estate planning attorney and discuss how this trust and the others mentioned by Forbes might be helpful in your situation.

Reference: Forbes, January 2, 2014: Six Trusts For The Person Who Has Everything Else

For more information on asset preservation and estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.