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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Citizens Bank: Joint Checking Accounts
- Bankrate: Risks of Joint Bank Accounts
- American College of Trust and Estate Counsel: Joint Accounts: Dangers and Alternatives
- Bankrate: Son Can't Flee Bank Checking Account
- Bank of America. "Our First Bank Account." Accessed April 20, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "A Closer Look: Overdraft and the Impact of Opting-In," Page 1. Accessed April 20, 2020.
- Code of Virginia. "§ 6.2-606. Ownership During Lifetime; Garnishment, Attachment, or Levy." Accessed April 20, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Either Person on the Joint Account Generally Has the Right to Move Funds or Close the Account." Accessed April 20, 2020.
- University Credit Union. "Membership Agreement." Accessed April 20, 2020.
- BBT. "Bank Services Agreement," Page 7. Accessed April 20, 2020.
- Wells Fargo. "Opening and Closing Accounts Questions." Accessed April 20, 2020.
- GreenState Credit Union. "Closing Your Account." Accessed April 20, 2020.
- Suntrust. "Rules and Regulations for Deposit Accounts," Page 28. Accessed April 20, 2020.
- Bank of America. "Telling Your Bank It’s Over." Accessed April 20, 2020.
- Washington and Lee Law Review. "Virginia's Equitable Distribution Law: An Owner's Manual," Page 9. Accessed April 20, 2020.
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.