I/T/F Bank Accounts Versus Joint Ownership

I/T/F Bank Accounts Versus Joint Ownership

One way of keeping bank accounts out of your estate and still retaining control is to title them in trust for, or I/T/F, with a named beneficiary. Some banks may use the letters POD for pay on death or TOD for transfer on death. Either way, the result is the same. No one except you can get the money until your death, and on death it immediately goes directly to the person you name, without a will or probate proceeding. These are sometimes called Totten Trusts, after the court case that declared them legal.

Example: Rich opened a bank account in the name of "Rich, I/T/F Mary." If Rich dies, the money automatically goes to Mary. Prior to his death, Mary has no control over the account—she does not even have to know about it—and Rich can take Mary's name off the account at any time.