Breaking up? How to close a joint bank account


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Breaking up is hard to do, and it’s even more challenging when you have a joint account with your partner.

A joint account is a checking or savings account shared by two or more people. Any person who is a member of the joint bank account can deposit or withdraw money.

Couples, business partners and close relatives typically have joint accounts. If you want to close a joint bank account, you can do it without the permission of other joint account holders. Here’s more on how to close a joint account.

Close the account in person

Banks usually require an account holder to visit a branch in order to close a bank account. It’s not necessary to bring along all the people who share the account as most banks let any holder of a joint account to close it unilaterally. However, joint accounts must have a zero balance in order to close them.

Before going to the bank, make sure you have proof of identification such as a valid photo ID. During the process, you will have to fill out a form requesting to close a joint bank account.

Some banks and credit unions will allow you to fax or mail a request to close a joint account, but these are rare. If your account is with an online bank, you and other members of the joint account may be asked to enter individual login information to close the account.

Divide the assets beforehand

If you share the account with your spouse, it’s best to settle the separation of assets before closing it. Since the assets in the account belong to both of you, dividing it in advance helps prevent any misunderstanding.

If you and your spouse are considering divorce, it’s vital to plan for the separation of your liabilities and assets. When a couple can’t agree on how to divide their assets, the first step a court usually takes is to classify the assets as either separate or marital.

Income that is earned during the marriage is typically considered marital property and is subject to division in the divorce. If the money was earned before the marriage or was acquired as a gift or inheritance to one spouse, it’s generally considered separate property and remains with the spouse that received it.

Pay off any remaining balance

If the joint account is for checking or savings, cancel any automatic payments to avoid extra bank fees if payments are posted after your account is closed. You should be careful about deposits as well. If a bank receives a deposit for a closed account, it may reopen the account and begin charging service fees for it.

If you are closing a joint credit card account, make sure to settle any remaining balance first. Creditors can seek payment from the members of a joint account, regardless of which party actually incurred the debt.

One way to resolve the issue of closing a joint credit card account is by opening new individual balance transfer accounts and transfer equal portions of the debt to your respective accounts.