How to open a family trust account

A family trust is set up to benefit the children and relatives of the trust's granter. A granter is a person who establishes a trust fund. When starting a trust fund, a granter must name a trustee. A trustee is a person designated to manage and distribute assets in compliance with the trust's instructions. Setting up a trust bank account requires some paperwork. The application process requires an hour or so of your time.

Visit your local bank and apply for a Totten trust account. Have your trust deed handy. You'll need to provide the names of people associated with your family trust.

Name a beneficiary of your Totten trust. The account will transfer to your beneficiary at the time of your death. Designate the account as "payable on death" (POD), if required by state law. This designation restricts any beneficiary named on the account from possessing legal interest in your Totten trust account during your lifetime.

Style the account in one of two ways: Follow the trustee's name with "TTEE," which is shorthand for Trustee, or "ITF," which is shorthand for "In Trust For." Either style identifies the trustee as the legal owner of the account.

Check that the account owner's name (i.e., the trustee) appears on the deposit contract. Match this name to the one printed on the signature card. The person named on both documents possesses sole and legal authority over the account.

Endorse the account, which completes the process and makes the trustee the sole and legal property of the trust account.

Make changes, as needed, to your Totten account, including who you named as a beneficiary on the account.

Tip

A Totten account is exempt from creditors.

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About the Author

Charlie Gaston has written numerous instructional articles on topics ranging from business to communications and estate planning. Gaston holds a bachelor's degree in international business and a master's degree in communications. She is fluent in Spanish and has extensive travel experience.

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