You can add someone to your bank account by contacting your bank directly. Usually, both the original account holder and the person to be added will need to go to the bank and fill out paperwork and show ID. Some banks may allow you to add someone to your bank account online or over the phone.
Adding someone to your bank account may require an hour or so of your time, but it can be worth it for the long-term simplicity of finances and peace of mind.
Reasons to add someone to your bank account
Why would you want to add someone to your bank account? The reasons to add someone to your bank account are as diverse as the relationships in your life. You might want to open a joint account for a child to start teaching them how to manage a checking account. Or you might be newly married and looking to combine an account for household expenses. Or maybe you want a joint bank account for freelance work you’re doing with your best friend.
If you’re looking after an elderly parent or friend, you might want to be added to their bank account to pay bills and better manage their finances. Another common reason to add someone to your bank account has to do with avoiding escrow of funds after death. Adding someone to a bank account also makes transferring assets easier at the time of passing.
What to know about adding someone to your bank account
While adding someone to your bank account is fairly straightforward, the implications of adding someone to your account are far-reaching. Here’s what you need to consider when adding someone to the account.
Your money is theirs
Most fundamentally, joint bank accounts mean the money is both of yours to spend. They can access the funds without limitations whenever they want and can make as many withdrawals as needed. While this might seem not to matter, if you’re not very clear on spending habits and criteria, it can lead to conflict, disagreements, and debt down the road.
Banks get calls regularly from unhappy customers who say all the money deposited was theirs and that the other account holder spent it without their permission. Unfortunately, that doesn’t matter. Once you’ve added them to the account, they have the right to spend what is there — with or without asking you. They can spend every penny in the account — with no legal consequences.
Their creditors can come after the account
Most people don’t think to run a credit check on the friend or family member that they’re adding to a joint bank account but doing so can save you a lot of hassle down the road. If the person you add to your bank account is in debt, you can be liable for their debts. Their creditors may come after the account, and you could be required to pay their debt.
For example, if the joint owner has delinquent child support payments or alimony obligations, past taxes due, or other financial problems, your account could be liable to pay these expenses. Likewise, if the joint owner is sued (or has been sued in an unsettled case), your bank account can be used to satisfy the judgment. If they get into debt in the future, you can also be liable for those expenses. As joint owners, you have no legal recourse against the joint owner and that debt.
Even if the person you’re adding is very financially responsible, life could throw a curveball. If they are at fault in a car accident, for example, you could be liable to pay damages from the joint account.
The joint account owner will inherit the account
In the event of your passing, they will inherit the account. The final wishes stated in your will are not applicable to bank accounts that are jointly owned. On your passing, the other joint owner will become the sole owner of the account.
This aspect can be an advantage or a disadvantage. If the person is your desired beneficiary, it makes it easy to pass on the funds. On the other hand, if you don’t want the joint account holder to inherit the funds, whether the desired beneficiary gains access to the funds will be at the discretion of the joining owner.
Removing a joint account owner can be tough
Once you’ve added someone to the account, it’s more difficult to remove them if something goes wrong. You’ll need their written consent before removing them in case of a separation, financial concern, or another issue. If you want to ensure they have been removed, you will need to go to the bank with the other joint owner to ensure that they’ve signed all the required documents.
Adding someone to your bank account
Even with these consequences, adding someone to your bank account can be convenient or necessary. Here’s what you need to do:
Contact your bank
The first step is to contact your bank to find out their procedures. You may need to make an in-person appointment, although many banks will allow you to walk in and add a user to an account.
When you go to the bank, be prepared with all the documents the bank may require. At a minimum, that is one form of government-issued ID. Depending on the individual situation, they may also ask for a birth certificate, Social Security card, or proof of visa if the person is not a U.S. citizen.
Update account information
Finally, the bank will ask you to update all account information, including adding a name or removing existing names. You’ll also be asked to confirm your physical address, mailing address, email, phone, and other contact information.
How to add someone to a bank account: final tips
Adding someone to a bank account takes a little time and a visit to your bank, but for many situations, it is a useful solution that will simplify life. Keep in mind that by adding someone to your bank account, you’ll have to follow certain steps if you ever want to remove them. In the meantime, they have the right to spend what is in that account and you could be liable for their debts. You need to decide what is right for you and your family.
Can I add someone to an existing bank account?
Yes, you can add someone to an existing bank account. Contact your bank for specific details.
What documents do I need to add someone to a bank account?
You will need to bring a photo ID to the bank when you add someone to the bank account. You will need your social security number. You may also need to bring a birth certificate, social security card, proof of visa (for non-citizens), or other requirements specific to your bank.
Can you put anyone on your bank account?
Yes, you can put anyone on your bank account as long as your bank allows joint account holders.