When you open a joint bank account with your spouse or with any other individual, you both have a legal right to access the funds held inside the account. You cannot stop your husband from making cash withdrawals from the account. However, you can deny your husband access to the funds by opening a new, differently titled account.
Joint Bank Account Withdrawals
When you open a joint bank account, your bank may provide you and your spouse with debit cards. These cards are assigned to you as individuals rather than as joint owners. Legally, your spouse cannot use your debit card, but you cannot prevent your spouse from obtaining a debit card and you cannot limit the amount of money that your spouse can withdraw from the account with the card.
Furthermore, your spouse can make an in-person cash withdrawal of the entire balance of the account even if you are the person who actually deposited the money into the account.
Danger of Overdrafts
Many joint account owners incur overdraft fees because they do not keep track of each other's withdrawals. Under the Bank Reform Act of 2010, you can opt out of your bank's overdraft procedures, which means that your bank cannot approve automated teller machine withdrawals if you lack sufficient funds to cover the amount being withdrawn.
If you opt out, you also deny your bank the right to charge you an insufficient funds fee for attempting to make such a withdrawal. However, after you have opted out, your spouse can contact the bank and opt in, in which case your bank can allow both of you to overdraw the account again and assess penalty fees.
Remove Signers From the Account
You can add or remove pay-on-death beneficiaries from your bank account at any time. Additionally, you can give someone else temporary access to your account by establishing a durable power of attorney (POA) that enables that person to transact on your behalf.
You can revoke or change the terms of the POA at any time. However, you cannot remove a joint owner from a bank account even if you originally opened the account as a single ownership account.
Open a New Account
While you cannot legally remove the name of a joint owner from a bank account, you can close the account. You can transfer the entire proceeds into a new single-ownership bank account, in which case your spouse can no longer access the funds. Your bank has no legal obligation to keep track of who deposits funds into the account and, therefore, your spouse has no way of reversing the account closure or accessing funds held in the new account.
However, depending on your state's laws, your spouse may have the right to have a freeze placed on your new account if you are in the process of getting a divorce. The divorce court judge may instruct the bank to deny you access to the funds until the divorce has been finalized. The Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler point out that Tennessee considers joint bank accounts as marital property. If one spouse withdrawals money from the bank account, the judge may order him to put the money back or give his spouse something of equal value in its place.
If you opt to open a new bank account, Divorce Magazine recommends opening one at a different bank than you previously used for your joint account. This is the best way to avoid confusion and to keep the two accounts from ever becoming linked.
Read More: How to Freeze a Joint Bank Account
- Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler: Your Rights When One Spouse Tries to Empty Out the Joint Bank Accounts
- DivorceMagazine.com: What You Can and Cannot Withdraw from Joint Accounts during Divorce
- Phys.org. "Joint bank accounts make for happier couples." Accessed Jan. 27, 2020.
- BBVA. "Understanding Joint Bank Accounts – How Do They Work?" Accessed Jan. 17, 2020.
- NOLO. "What Happens to Bank Accounts at Your Death." Accessed Jan. 17, 2020.
- BPE Law Group. "Probate Litigation and Joint Bank Accounts — Are Your Accounts Properly Titled?" Accessed Jan. 17, 2020.
- CreditCards.com "Financial infidelity poll: 20% say a secret account is worse than an affair." Accessed January 27, 2020.