What is a Joint Account?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 02 June 2019
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Whenever a bank opens a new savings or checking account for a customer, his or her name is listed as the sole authorized user of that account. If two or more individuals want to share access to the same account, however, they need to open a joint account. Any of the parties listed as a joint owner of the account can make deposits, write checks, or withdraw cash. In most cases, this type of account is opened by individuals with a close family or business relationship, such as parents and children, married or unmarried couples, or business co-owners. Some participants can restrict access by requiring two signatures on checks or withdrawal slips.

A joint account is considered to be riskier than two separate accounts, but many people find that pooling their income into a common account makes bill paying easier. Married couples with dual incomes may open an account together for routine expenses and individual accounts for other obligations. Elderly parents may consider opening an account with their adult children in order to pay household bills or to avoid probate court complications after death.

One aspect of a joint account is the right of survivorship. If two people open an account and one dies, the other party is usually entitled to the remaining balance of that account. Other types of individual accounts may be subject to probate court restrictions, which can keep much-needed funds out of the hands of survivors for months or years.


Those who open an account together should have the understanding that the other partner will always have the right to use all of the money in that account. This is why such accounts should be limited to people who have complete trust in each other. Both account holders need to keep track of current balances, deposits, and outgoing expenses. All parties can be held liable for overdrafts and bounced checks, unless one party is restricted by the "two-signature" requirement.

Young couples considering marriage or living together need to discuss the pros and cons of this type of banking because a joint account carries more risk than individual accounts. If one party has substantial loan obligations or automatic deductions, the other party sharing the account should be comfortable with the situation. Creditors view a joint account as they would an individual account, so funds can be legally deducted even if only one party actually owes the debt. An elderly account holder should also be comfortable with the fact that the other party can withdraw all of the funds at any time without prior notice. These accounts work best when both parties have established a solid level of trust between them.


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Post 31

If I take money out of a joint account with my mother, do I have to pay taxes?

Post 29

On a joint savings account with an elderly relative, do you need both Social Security numbers on the account to be a 50/50 partner, or is only one needed -- that of the elderly relative? And is the younger person able to withdraw up to 50 percent of that money without penalty?

Post 27

If I take money out of a joint account with my mother, do I have to pay taxes?

Post 26

I have an account under my mother's name that allows her to put money into my checking account. Can she see every time I take money out or put it in?

Post 25

If a check bounces on a joint account and the check is signed by one party, do you sue the person who signed the check or both parties?

Post 24

What is the difference between having the word "or" between the names on a account rather than "and?"

Post 23

In a joint account, which one is superior? The first name or the second name? Is it valid for the second name to block the account for any transaction by oral or written application? Is it compulsory that two persons on a joint account will share that fixed amount equally?

Post 22

I am a joint owner of three CD's with a close male friend. He passed away in March and I can't remember what bank they are on. All three are $1,000 each. How do I go about finding this?

Post 21

What is the difference between a primary and co owner in a joint account? How I can protect myself? My husband wants to be a co owner in a joint account and I am the primary. I have my children. I need to be secure. Please advise.

Post 20

If you have an account with your father is it possible for him to restrict your access and make it impossible to withdraw money? The two-signature thing aside, or is that the only way?

Post 19

My sister has a joint account with my mother some years back. Can she just transfer some money out of the account without my Mother's knowing? Can we ask her to account for it?

Post 18

Can I remove half of the funds from a joint banking and mutual fund accounts that my husband and I have in a family trust?

He threw me out of the house over a year ago (our two adult daughters live there scot free), my pay checks have been going into our bank account as he promised to buy me out, and needed to cover mortgage payments so my credit wouldn't be ruined. This hasn't happened so I proposed to withdraw half our funds.

He is off buying big screen televisions, stereos, running up credit bills, spending and I want to preserve half of the value in the accounts before the accounts are bled down.

I got the forms to

move half of the mutual funds to a new account and he won't sign. my husband spoke to the trust attorney and he emailed me to say I can't move because of "Major restrictions. You need to talk to her. Until you and I have some form of separation or divorce agreement in place no funds should be transferred." That's her opinion, not mine, and it has major impact.
Post 17

If you want to open a joint account with your sibling who is under age and you're 18 and older and both are still under your parent's roof, by the law can they claim the money as theirs?

Post 15

Can joint account setup with no signing authority for children and still avoid probate?

Post 14

Can I know the maximum of how many people can open a joint account?

Post 13

if one party dies can one possess all the property?

Post 12

i want to open a joint account in a bank. what are the documents required?

Post 11

My wife and I are separated. We have a joint account in which my savings and my wife's salary was deposited. We also bought a car from the amount from joint account. Now my wife is claiming to all the amount of her salary and the car through a lawsuit.

Post 10

Many banks are reluctant to approve any request which denies equal access to a joint account. If a person honestly wants to sever financial ties with a joint account holder, the bank will often suggest opening up a new account and closing the former one. Sometimes a bank can create password protection in order to limit access to certain account functions, such as electronic fund transfers. Because all members of a joint account are considered equal, it is not generally considered a crime for one member to withdraw the entire balance if he or she chooses. This is a risk joint account holders must assume whenever they agree to open such an account.

Post 9

Should the branch manager of the bank approve the request of one of the members of joint account which is that another member should no longer be allowed to effect withdrawals from the savings account?

Post 8

If a joint account has $200,000 in the account and I take all the money can I be charged with a crime?

Post 7

my friend had joint account with her husband but they don't live with each other now. they separated and she needs money now. is she allowed to take money from bank?

Post 6

Please tell me a bank or investment company offering a joint money market account requiring both joint account holders to sign a check or document in order to withdraw money every time from this joint account.

Post 5

what word is good to use when opening a bank account with my older parents. like "he or she, or, "she and he" when opening the account. i also want to know if these word make a difference as far as probate?

Post 4

if you have a joint account of a fixed account for a period of time, can any one of the parties stop the account before the lapse of that period of time, without the signature of the other party?

Post 3

Can I know the maximum of how many people can open a joint account?

Post 2

are both parties required to live at the same address?

Post 1

i was wondering how many people can be in a joint account?

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