There are many reasons you might want to open a joint checking account with your significant other, including the convenience of having your funds in a single place. Before opening a joint account, however, make sure you know the rules and requirements.
The first requirement when opening a joint checking account, and an obvious one, is someone to share the account with you. You will both need to sign up for the account and agree to its terms. Spouses typically open a JTWROS account, which is short for joint tenants with rights of survivorship. This type of account lets any account holder conduct transactions, including closing the account and taking all the money. If that’s a scary thought, you might want a dual signature account, which requires the signature of all account holders for a withdrawal. In JTWROS accounts, money belongs to surviving holders if one of the account owners dies.
Before you open your account, shop around. The Department of Financial Services suggests calling at least three banks. Banks differ in what they’ll ask you to fork over for an opening deposit. Some banks hold the deposit -- meaning you can’t access it -- for a certain number of days. Don’t decide on a bank solely on the opening deposit, though. Fees differ between banks, too. Some make you keep a minimum amount in the account at all times and hit you with a charge if you don’t. Some levy a monthly service charge just because you have the account. Make sure you are aware of all the fees and requirements before signing up for an account.
Banks are legally required to record your name, birth date, Social Security number and address when you open an account. You will need to bring identification and something showing where you live. Call before you go to learn the bank’s specific policies. You and the other account holder might be asked to bring two forms of official ID, including a picture identification such as a driver’s license or passport. A bill will suffice to show your current address. This address has to actually be where you live, not a post office box. Also, bring your Social Security card.
At the Bank
You and the other account holder will be required to fill out an application form with all your pertinent information. These forms are often available online. In addition, both you and your fellow account holder will need to sign signature cards so that the bank has your signature on file. The bank will check your record with other banks and may check your credit history as well. If you or the other account applicant have a record showing you owe another bank money, it might refuse to open an account for you.
Sophie Johnson is a freelance writer and editor of both print and film media. A freelancer for more than 20 years, Johnson has had the opportunity to cover topics ranging from construction to music to celebrity interviews.