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How do I Open a Joint Account?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2016
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There are many different types of joint account options, and most people automatically think of the joint checking or savings account as the principal example. Other kinds of accounts exist, including joint credit accounts, where two people decide to use and share access to a revolving line of credit. Sometimes people have specialized joint savings accounts too, such as IRAs or others. In any of these cases, people usually open a joint account by appearing together or separately at a financial institution to present documentation and sign any paperwork needed; alternately, some applications are mailed. Generally, when an account is owned jointly, it means both people have equal access to and equal responsibility for it.

When people open a simple joint account that is for checking or savings, they frequently head to their bank or financial institution of choice with the requisite deposit amount needed to open the account. They’ll probably need to provide information about present address and tax identifying information like a social security number. Picture identification may be required too.

Couples could decide on certain features when they open a joint account together, such as the type of account, or whether they wish both names to appear on checks. Though it’s frequently couples that open a joint account, others may open them too. Another scenario occurs when a person has access to someone else’s account to care for them, like in an adult/older parent relationship.

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In this second scenario, rights to the account need to be clearly defined. Sometimes the caretaker has the right to sign or access the money as needed but doesn’t have survivorship rights of the account. This means if the parent were to die, the account doesn’t automatically transfer to the survivor. This isn’t fully a joint account. In most true joint accounts, the death of one account holder automatically transfers full ownership of the account to the survivor.

Sometimes when people open a joint account, the right to hold the account may be determined based on eligibility. A married couple that jointly applies for a credit card account might have it denied if one of the applicants has a poor credit history. In these cases it may be necessary to apply for the account in the name of the person with the better credit history and give the spouse a card to use, which doesn’t represent immediate responsibility for repayment. Theoretically, the debts of one spouse often become debts of the other spouse.

There can be numerous advantages for those who wish to open a joint account. Chief among these is being able to seamlessly manage money concerns together. These accounts aren’t always a good choice, and may need to be considered carefully if one applicant has debts that could cause removal of money from the account, or if an applicant has issues like ongoing credit problems that might create account denial. Otherwise, in most instances, applying jointly for an account is a fairly easy process.

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candyquilt
Post 3

@ZipLine-- It's sounds like that wasn't a joint account. The bank probably just issued an extra card in your name for that account. I'm pretty sure that a new joint account has to be opened if two people want equal access to an account.

It's risky to have a joint account. A friend of mine got divorced recently. She had a terrible experience where her husband withdrew all of their money and basically ran away with it because it was a joint account. She couldn't get her share back.

ZipLine
Post 2

@ddljohn-- That might depend on the bank and their policies. It may also depend on the type of rights both owners of the account will have. The easiest way to find out is to call up the bank and ask. Because whats allowed in one bank may not necessarily apply to another.

My mom and I had a joint account for a while when I was in college. It was her account but I got signed up for it. I went to the bank with mom and filled out a form. My name started appearing on the account and I was given a checking card as well. My mom did this before I went off to college so that I wouldn't have any issues with my financial needs. I'm not sure if every bank does it the same way though. I might be wrong.

ddljohn
Post 1

Can an individual account be turned into a joint account? For example, my husband has an individual checking account. Can I sign up as a joint owner for that account? Or do we have to go and open a separate joint account?

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