Can Unmarried People Open a Joint Account?

Lindsay Goldwert
February 25th, 2021 | 5 min

Fact: You don't have to be married to open a joint account with your partner. You can begin to combine your finances at any stage in a relationship, whether you've decided to move in together or you've become engaged.

When it comes to opening a joint account, what's more important than your marital status is that you have multiple shared expenses (e.g. rent, utilities), a commitment to each other's financial wellbeing, and most importantly, trust.

Opening a joint account and combining all of some of your finances is a big decision. That said, here are some key things to know before you open a joint account with your significant other:

Who owns the money in a joint account?

Both or all parties are legal owners of the joint account, and thereby, own the money. It doesn’t matter who opened the account, you're both able to deposit and withdraw money into and from it.

Important: This means that one account holder can withdraw all of the money in the account without the consent of the other. You're both legally responsible for the money in a joint account. That means if one account holder overdrafts the account, commits fraud, or commits other negative financial actions, all the holders are on the hook and are financially or even possibly criminally liable.

This is why trust is key. Since the money in a joint account is co-owned by each of you (meaning either of you can take all the funds out irrespective of what you each contributed), you both have equal access.

Who can close the joint account?

When it comes to the rules of a joint account, you and the other account holder have the ability to close the account at any time. Keep in mind that the majority of banks do not require proof of agreement to close, meaning that a single person can unilaterally close the account without needing to obtain the consent of the other.

So if you’re nervous or not quite sure about your partner's financial history and habits, then you might want to hold off until you’re ready.

Not sure how to get the money conversation started? We recommend our 20 Questions game to help you learn each other's Money Stories and help you understand where your financial habits came from and your attitude toward spending and saving for the future.

A joint bank account is a great way to start building a shared approach to finances, giving you both something to discuss and build habits around.

Ready to open a joint account? Learn more about Zeta Joint Cards here.

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The Zeta Joint Card and Joint Account is offered by LendingClub Bank, N.A., or Piermont Bank, Members FDIC. Zeta Help Inc. is a service provider of the issuing bank. All deposit accounts of the same ownership and/or vesting held at the issuing bank are combined and insured under an FDIC Certificate, up to $500,000. The Zeta Joint Debit Card, provided by MasterCard, may be used everywhere where MasterCard Debit Cards are accepted.