A Joint Owned Bank Account Is not Yours Alone

Many people add friends or family members to their bank accounts for convenience or to avoid probate.  But, when circumstances change, and the original account holders want to regain sole ownership of their accounts, they are shocked to learn they cannot.Many people add friends or family members to their bank accounts for convenience or to avoid probate.  But, when circumstances change, and the original account holders want to regain sole ownership of their accounts, they are shocked to learn they cannot.

To close an account, banks almost always require the consent and presence of all joint owners.  Problems arise if the new account holder refuses to cooperate or the original owner wishes to act without consent.  The original owner is no longer in complete control of the money and cannot close the account alone.  However, the original account holder can transfer the funds to a new account.  The original owner will first need to open a new account in his or her name alone then transfer the funds from the old account into the new.

Account holders may accomplish transfers by check or a cash withdrawal.  Minimum balance requirements may make complete withdrawals impossible.  However, such requirements are typically small, and the original owner can withdraw everything from the old account, leaving $1, $10, or $100, while transferring the remaining money back into his or her own control.