It is common for couples, business partners or family members to have joint checking accounts. Most of the time joint accounts are created for the convenience of bill paying purposes, but there are sometimes other reasons a joint account is established. This could include setting up a joint account as a way to establish it so more than one person has access to make deposits and withdrawals to ensure financial obligations are met. An additional potential reason is for survivorship purposes, which ensures that the account doesn’t end up in probate in the event a person passes away.
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Whatever the reason was for establishing a joint account, if you want to close one, here are some steps you should take to close the joint checking account:
Open a New Checking Account
Whenever a person looks to close an account, any kind of account, it is always a good idea to open a new account first. If you are severing financial ties with the co-owner of your account, open the new account in your name only.
Wait for All Checks to Clear
Regardless of the reasons for closing the joint account, it is important to be sure all checks written are cleared. This is to avoid money in limbo and to ensure financial accuracy with the way your money is routed. If a check hasn’t cleared and the account is closed, this can be problematic and bills won’t be paid as anticipated.
Stop Any Direct Deposits and Redirect to New Account
These days many people have direct deposits going to their checking accounts, before closing your joint account, be sure both owners have rerouted any direct deposits that occur. The best way to do this is to open a new account first, and then contact all of the places making the deposits and then reroute the money to the new account.
Request Account Closure
Many banks do not require both parties to be present when closing a joint checking account, although some do require both owners’ permission to close. Policies vary from bank to bank on how the procedure to close a joint account works and it is always best to contact the individual bank to find out if both parties need to be present or whether or not the request must be made in writing prior to coming into the bank.
Keep in mind even if the bank requires both parties’ permission to close the account, this does not prevent one owner from emptying out all of the money in the checking account. If the situation is a divorce or other volatile situation, you may want to consider asking the bank to freeze the account. This is often a good move to ensure one owner does not empty the account without the other person’s knowledge.
Notify the Joint Owner of Your Intentions
It’s always a good idea to notify the joint owner of your intentions to close the account. However, in a divorce or other messy situation, this may be an issue. If you are afraid of losing your money, be sure and take your portion out to ensure you don’t lose all of your money. Keep in mind unless a freeze has been put on the account, your co-owner can continue to withdraw funds.
Joint checking accounts require a lot of trust. Ideally, closing one out can be done with the same level of trust, but this isn’t always the case. Be sure and reestablish yourself with a new account and follow bank policy, and closing a joint account can be a relatively painless procedure.
Leigh has been writing on the web since 2007. She has a high interest in business, tech, higher education, and Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia travel, but loves to write about a variety of topics. In addition to writing on Writedge, she also runs a blog about the Washington DC Metro Area and a photography blog Photos by Leigh Goessl.