Rules for Closing a Joint Checking Account

by Anna Assad
The bank may ask to see both joint account holders before closing the account.

You must close a bank account if you no longer want to use it. Failing to close an account can cost you later, particularly if it’s a joint account and you’re having problems with the other account user. Both holders on a joint account carry the same legal responsibility for it, so if the other account holder puts the balance in the negative, the bank will come after you for the money.

Account Agreement

You and the other account holder agreed to the bank’s account rules when you opened it, as outlined in the account agreement. The rules vary by bank, but usually both holders may write checks against the account, make debits and withdraw money regardless of who makes the deposits. Both account holders have the right to ask for account closure, but you must follow the closure rules set by the bank in your agreement.

Procedures

While either person can ask to close the account, your bank has its own rules regarding consent and identification. The bank may allow one person to close the account or require something from both holders. For example, both account holders might have to fill out a form to close the account and give the bank proper identification, such as a valid state’s driver’s license. Speak to a bank representative and look at your agreement for the joint account closure requirements.

Balance

The bank may not allow you to close the account until you pay what you owe to bring the balance to zero if your balance is in the negative. It doesn’t matter if you’re not the person who made the transaction that put the account under. If your account had a minimum balance requirement, such as $100, you might get hit with fees for letting the balance go below the required amount. Any pending transactions you have must clear before the bank will close the account.

Example

One account holder can effectively ‘close’ the account by withdrawing all the money from it without consent from the other holder. For instance, Nick and Mary have a joint account with a balance of $560. Nick withdraws the $560 without telling Mary. The account is still open at the bank but now has no money in it. If Nick and Mary’s account had a minimum balance requirement of $200, the bank may charge a fee because the balance fell below $200. Mary is stuck paying the fee to get the balance back to zero so she can formally close the account.

About the Author

Anna Assad began writing professionally in 1999 and has published several legal articles for various websites. She has an extensive real estate and criminal legal background. She also tutored in English for nearly eight years, attended Buffalo State College for paralegal studies and accounting, and minored in English literature, receiving a Bachelor of Arts.

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