What Does a Joint Bank Account Mean?

Written by lee mason
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A bank account can be titled in several ways to demonstrate the ownership of the money held within it and who is authorised to withdraw money or write checks on the account. A joint bank account is not always the ideal choice for two people for a variety of reasons, such as premarital assets, tax liabilities and debt liens.

What Is a Joint Bank Account?

In simple terms, a joint bank account is an account where two people are listed as having equal title on the account. The relationship between the two individuals is arbitrary but is often an account between couples, married or otherwise, or other parties who want to share access to funds such as parents and their children.

Pre-marital Assets and Joint Accounts

In most states, premarital assets are not considered part of the assets used to determine divorce settlements. If a partner makes a premarital account joint or adds these funds to a joint account, it is considered co-mingled and may be placed under marital assets. To protect them in the event of a future separation, premarital assets should be kept separate.


Ageing parents often place a close child as a joint account signer to make banking and bill paying easier should the child need to assume more bookkeeping roles for her parents. If an account has considerable money in it, there would be a possibility of being liable for gift tax. The IRS has cracked down on these scenarios as parents were adding children to avoid inheritance taxes..

Debt Liens

As with premarital assets, premarital debt is important to segregate. By combining funds in a joint account, the joint signers are agreeing to be liable for the other person's debt. Keeping things separate may be the best option to protect the assets in a relationship.

A Couple's Commitment

For many couples, a joint current account is a major sign that they have given each other a commitment to monogamy. Sharing assets and showing responsibility with another person's money is a key psychological step.

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