Using a joint bank account with a right of survivorship is common with married couples, but this type of account can lead to some difficulties. With this type of account, both parties who own the account have equal access to the funds. When one person dies, the money goes to the other person.
Difficult to Close
One of the potential problems of a joint bank account with right of survivorship is that it can be difficult to close. If one person wants to close the account, she will need the permission of the other accountholder. If both parties are not in agreement about what to do with the account, it can lead to problems. In this case, the account may remain open even though no one is using it.
No Creditor Protection
A joint bank account with right of survivorship does not offer any creditor protection. When one person who has ownership of the account gets into credit trouble, he could have a judgment issued against him by the court system. When this happens, part of the money could be taken out of the account through a bank levy. The money removed from the account may not have been contributed by that person, but since his name is on the account, the creditor can take it.
Either Party Can Take Money
When two individuals use a joint bank account, each person has an equal right to the money in the account. It does not necessarily matter if one person puts 90 percent of the money in the account and the other person contributes 10 percent. Both of them have the right to take out 100 percent of the money at any given time. This means that one spouse could take all of the money and run if he chose to do so.
A joint bank account will usually have to go through probate when the owners pass away. This means that the beneficiaries of the estate will have to wait for the probate court to distribute the assets. It also means that the account will become part of the public record, as is the case with all probate assets. If you would like to pass on assets to another person, a payable-on-death account may be a better choice. With this type of account, assets do not have to go through probate before they are passed on.