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Totten Trusts Attorney

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As trusted estate planning attorneys in St. Louis, we’ve helped countless Missourians leverage their trusts and other estate planning tools to ensure long-term financial security. Need top-tier estate planning solutions? Contact David S. Schleiffarth to explore your options today.

You’ve worked hard to establish financial stability, and not just for yourself — for your family members and loved ones, too. Whenever life brought you to crossroads, you made the difficult decisions, sacrificing short-term satisfaction for long-term security. Now, it’s time to ensure that all of your diligent financial decisions weren’t made in vain, and the best way to do that is through comprehensive estate planning.

With a top-tier estate plan in place, you can rest assured that all of your assets, whether they include real estate, investments, personal property, or something else, are protected from creditor claims and excessive taxation. If properly structured, your estate plan will ensure that your estate is divided and distributed according to your wishes, in the most advantageous way possible.

As trusted estate planning attorneys in St. Louis, we utilize a wide variety of tools to meet your specific estate planning goals and needs. One of the most popular estate planning tools is a legal arrangement called a trust, and it comes in numerous forms, including the totten trust. The totten trust, which is also called a payable-on-death account (POD account), is a unique legal tool that guarantees a smooth transfer of assets upon death — without the need for probate.

Wondering if a totten trust could be right for you? The best way to explore your options is by soliciting legal advice from a top-tier estate planning lawyer in St. Louis. In the meantime, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this specialized trust, including why people use totten trusts, their potential benefits and drawbacks, and more.

At the Law Office of David S. Schleiffarth, we take pride in providing expert estate planning guidance to clients in St. Louis and beyond. Ready to protect your family’s financial future and secure your legacy? Reach out to us online to schedule your first appointment. 

Why People Use Totten Trusts to Avoid Probate

Some types of trust rely on complex mechanisms to transfer assets to beneficiaries, but not the totten trust. Known for its simplicity and efficiency, this special trust allows the grantor (the trust’s creator and account owner) to open a bank account and name a beneficiary who will receive the account’s funds upon the grantor’s death. During the grantor’s lifetime, they retain full control and ownership of the account, can deposit and withdraw funds, change beneficiaries, and even close the account altogether. 

Because a totten trust automatically transfers the account’s assets to the beneficiary upon the grantor’s death, it is able to circumvent the probate process — and the delays, costs, and inconveniences associated with it. This estate planning tool is particularly beneficial to individuals who wish to provide their beneficiaries with immediate access to funds. 

In summary, individuals often choose totten trusts to avoid probate court for several key reasons, including the following: 

Ultimately, totten trusts provide a practical, cost-effective, and private mechanism for transferring assets to beneficiaries without delay. However, they are not ideal for every person or in every situation. 

Benefits of a Totten Trust

For most people, avoiding probate is the primary benefit of totten trusts, but that is by no means the only potential advantage. As discussed above, totten trusts provide simplicity, efficiency, privacy, and cost-savings, allowing a decedent to access assets without delay. Here are a few additional benefits: 

At the end of the day, totten trusts provide a practical, efficient, and private way to quickly transfer assets to a beneficiary for immediate access. Depending on your specific financial situation and goals, however, this may not be the most ideal estate planning tool for you. 

The Disadvantages of Totten Trusts

Although totten trusts offer many potential benefits, they can also come with downsides — especially for individuals who require highly customizable estate planning tools. Here are a few of the potential disadvantages of this estate planning tool: 

Despite offering distinct benefits to some individuals, totten trusts also come with limitations and potential drawbacks. An experienced estate planning professional can help you determine whether or not a totten trust is right for you. 

Who Might Need a Totten Trust?

If you read through the potential advantages and disadvantages of a totten trust, you probably have a pretty good idea of whether or not this type of trust could be beneficial to you. Although totten trusts serve a valuable purpose for many individuals, they are most likely to benefit the following groups:

  • Individuals who want to avoid probate
  • Parents with minor children who need to ensure immediate access to funds
  • Elderly individuals who value a smooth transfer of funds without legal complications
  • Individuals with dependents who don’t have other sources of immediate income
  • Private individuals who want to keep their financial affairs off the public record
  • Individuals with straightforward financial situations and limited assets

Keep in mind that while totten trusts typically benefit these groups more than others, their ability to further your estate planning goals depends on various complex factors. Fortunately, you don’t have to figure it out alone.

David S. Schleiffarth: a Trusted Estate Planning Lawyer in St. Louis, Missouri

There’s a reason so many Missourians continue to choose us for their estate planning needs. With years of experiences, resources, and unparalleled expertise, our law firm combines the highest level of professionalism and ethics with strategic legal insights to offer top-quality estate planning services at reasonable rates. Ready to secure your financial future? Getting started with us is easy: Simply contact us online to schedule an initial consultation or call us at (314) 448-0527.

Our Process

Approachable Estate Planning. From start to finish, we are here to shoulder the load and make Estate Planning easy!


Make an appointment

Call, text, or email and we will find a time that works with your schedule.


Initial appointment

We discuss your life, family, financial situation, & Estate Planning goals. You do not need to bring anything.



You do nothing. Relax and we will prepare drafts of your documents in approximately 2 weeks.


Review & approval

You look over your documents. We answer questions and make any changes as needed.


Signing appointment

Once your documents have met your satisfaction, you will sign the final drafts at our office. (In front of 2 witnesses and a notary–provided by us, of course).