If you find yourself in a breakup or divorce, you may wonder whether you can close a joint bank account. Quietly closing a joint bank account is possible, but it will depend on whether you’re the primary account holder and whether all parties want to close the account. State law or the terms of the account often mean you cannot remove someone else from a joint bank account without their consent. But you should be able to remove yourself unless the bank specifically prohibits it.
Can one person close a joint bank account?
To close a joint bank account, all users will have to agree, usually in writing, before the account can be closed. If there are any overdrafts on the account, you won’t be able to close it until they have been paid. Likewise, if there are automatic payments linked to the account, like utilities or mortgage payments, you won’t be able to close the account.
What it means to remove yourself from a joint bank account
When you remove yourself from a joint bank account, you are no longer legally responsible for any of the account’s liabilities or obligations. For example, in case of a breakup or divorce, you may want to remove yourself from a joint bank account or close a joint bank account.
Likewise, if you agreed to be a joint signer on a bank account to help someone else open the account but don’t want to be liable for their debt, you may want to remove yourself from a joint bank account. In rarer cases, if you’re being sued and want to protect the funds of the joint account holder (assuming they’re not your spouse), you can remove yourself from the joint bank account.
Finally, if the joint account was opened for a specific purpose, like vacation savings or a business venture but is no longer in use, it may make sense to close the joint bank account. This can minimize fees for something you’re no longer using.
How to remove yourself from a joint bank account
If you want to remove yourself from a joint bank account, there are a few initial steps to take, including clearing any past debt. Here’s an overview of the key steps.
Pay off any debts or unsettled banking fees
Most banks won’t let you close a joint bank account or remove yourself from the account until all debts associated with it have been paid off. Closing a joint bank account does not absolve any debt associated with it. Ideally, keep the account debt-free to make it easier to close and avoid costly interest and fees. Talk to the joint account holder about paying off debt if you can.
Withdraw your funds
If you remove yourself from a joint bank account, any funds you contributed to the account or that were deposited into the account will become the sole property of the remaining account holder(s). If some of the funds were your funds, you may withdraw them. If possible, coordinate this with the joint account holder(s).
Review the bank’s policies
When removing yourself from a joint bank account, it is important to understand the bank’s specific policies. Some banks will only allow you to close the joint account and each reapply for separate accounts. Other banks will allow you to remove yourself as a joint account holder but require you to come in person. You can call your bank or check online to understand its specific policies about removing yourself as a joint bank account holder.
Inform the other person
Depending on the bank’s policies you may need written permission from the other account holder when removing yourself or closing a joint account. Whether the bank requires it or not, informing the joint account holder and discussing the distribution of funds and payment of debts, is courteous, if you can manage it.
Contact the bank
While most banks won’t let you remove the other joint account holder without their permission, many will allow you to remove yourself. Your bank can walk you through removing yourself from a joint bank account. You may need to submit a written request or go in person for a scheduled appointment.
Consider any fees
Some banks charge fees for removing a joint account holder or closing a joint bank account. Consult your bank to understand fees and decide with the other account holder(s) who will be responsible for these fees.
Confirm the account closure
If you’ve chosen to close a joint bank account rather than simply remove yourself, you’ll need to confirm with the bank that all debts are cleared and the account is officially closed. If you’ve removed yourself from a joint bank account and the bank account remains open, you can still confirm this is complete. You can also ask the bank for written confirmation.
Keep any documents
You should receive a confirmation, which you’ll want to keep for future reference. If you are later asked to make payments on the account you’ve been removed from, you can use this documentation to prove the date you were removed from the joint bank account.
Final thoughts on closing a joint bank account
Whether you choose to remove yourself from a joint bank account or close the joint bank account will depend on the situation and bank policies. Both options are feasible as long there are no outstanding debts or overdrafts on the account. If possible, communicate clearly with the joint account holder and then part ways equitably by either closing the joint bank account or removing yourself.
Can one person remove themselves from a joint account?
Depending on bank policies, one person may be able to remove themselves from a joint bank account. For some banks, you’ll need to schedule an appointment at the bank. Other banks require written permission from the other joint account holder, and some only allow you to close the joint bank account and open new separate accounts.
Can I remove my name from a joint account without notifying the other person?
You may be able to remove your name from a joint bank account without notifying the other person as long as there is no outstanding debt on the account. Check your bank’s policies, as some banks don’t allow you to remove yourself from a joint bank account without notifying the other person or closing a joint bank account.
How long does it take to close a joint bank account?
How long it takes to close a joint bank account depends on bank policies, but it can be completed in a few days as long as there are no overdrafts or outstanding debts.