Is It a Good Idea to Open a Joint Account & How Easy Are They to Close?

When you’ve been together a while and living together, managing two separate checking accounts can get to be a real pain. Someone has to cover the mortgage payment and the weekly groceries over at Walmart don’t pay for themselves.

When living on a tight budget between the two of you, juggling the balances to ensure no payments bounce gets to be a challenge. Solving the problem by opening a joint account is one idea that helps with all that, but it is a good idea?

Let’s look at whether it’s a good idea to join forces with your checking accounts and how easy they are to close if you separate later.

One Is Better Than Two?

Not everyone likes the idea of having a joint checking account. If you’re one of those people, then you’re not alone. Nonetheless, you probably see the benefit of having one because it makes it much easier to cover the larger payments that go out of you or your partner’s account, like rent/mortgage, grocery shopping, gift giving, and the like.

Sometimes, one account is better than two, but what some people decide to do who are jittery about merging their banking facility is to maintain their own checking account. This way three is better than one. By maintaining some independence, it provides a bit of reassurance. Your wage can still go directly into your account and you can set up a regular payment to send an agreed amount over to the joint account to pay for the large outgoings which are shared.

Are There Any Risks with Joint Accounts?

The real concern with using joint accounts is that should a relationship end unexpectedly, your former partner could go down to the bank, close the account and withdraw the entire balance for themselves. Where the online banking has the option to send out text alerts to your phone when a larger withdrawal is made, setting this up is smart. However, if the alert related to a pending withdrawal and closure of the account, it won’t help you.

For couples that take the step of maintaining checking accounts in their own name, they can use the joint account for bill paying while keeping their savings still in their name and under their full control. Doing so takes full advantage of the benefits of using a joint account while removing the possible risk factors to create a win-win.

Closing a Joint Bank Account

In general, with a joint account, both people have ownership of the account and the right to close the account. Usually, a bank will not put a hold on balances on a joint account to prevent them being withdrawn. It’s possible that some joint accounts may have some additional assurances, but that’s not always the case.

When you want to know how to close a joint bank account, the bank teller can inform you how the bank likes to proceed. In most cases, both account holders must be present to request closure of the account. ID with a photograph like a valid driver’s license is usually sufficient to close the account, but having the bank card for the account is useful too. A closure form is usually completed by one of the account holders to formally request the closure of the account and signed by both. Once the closure is complete, the balance on the account after allowing for all remaining transactions will be remitted.

Joint accounts make managing a couple’s finances a little bit easier. They aren’t risk-free to use, but when you’re smart about only transferring money into the account to pay for that month’s bills, then both partners protect themselves equally.