One of the financial questions you have to answer when you are part of a couple is this: Should we open a joint bank account? The answer, of course, has largely to do with personal preference. My husband and I find that there are benefits to having a joint account. Even if you retain separate accounts for your own spending, having one joint account that you can use for shared household expenses, or an emergency fund, can make your cash flow a little easier through your personal economy.
Having a joint account has worked well for my husband and me because we share a lot of expenses. He doesn’t like worrying about money very much, so he’s not involved as I would like in the finances, but he does call when he wants to make a purchases over a certain amount, and he asks how long we need to save up for large purchases. Additionally, having a joint account makes it easier for the survivor to access money if one of us dies.
Setting Up a Joint Bank Account
As long as you both are willing to give the other access to the money you share, setting up a joint account is fairly straightforward. Most savings, checking and money market accounts can be set up jointly. Just go into the bank with the required identification, and you can set up a joint account.
You will need to decide what type of joint bank account you have. The most common type is the kind that allows either of you to access the money at any time, and for any reason, with rights of survivorship. Make sure that you have this type of account if you both want unrestricted access to the account.
There are also joint bank accounts that have limitations. If you are concerned about how your partner deals with money, you can get a joint checking account that requires you both to approve a withdrawal or sign a check. This can get tedious, but if you set up your shared household expenses through bill pay, once you get things automated, you can just make sure that you each deposit the requisite amount of money from your own accounts to cover shared expenses. Other than that, most of these banks offer good savings rates and CD rates as well.
It is also possible to open a joint checking account that allows your partner access to funds while you are alive, but specifies a different division of the money in the account after you die. Before you open a joint bank account, make sure that you understand your options, and you choose what works best for you.
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