How to Close a Joint Bank Account


Closing a joint bank account might seem tricky, but it’s not that different from closing a sole bank account. Before you close your account, make sure you and the other account holder have transferred all of your banking to a new account. Then, you’ll need to transfer or withdraw all of your funds. Finally, you or your partner can close the account. As an alternative, you can convert your account back to a sole account by taking off the other person’s name.

Part 1
Opening a New Account

Opening a New Account on How to Close a Joint Bank Account

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You can open a new account at your current bank or at a new bank of your choosing. Visit a local branch and meet with an account representative, who will walk you through the process. Show them your photo ID to prove your identity. Additionally, bring a check or cash to deposit into your new account, as you’ll need to put funds into it immediately.[1] Make sure you get your new bank account number and routing number. You’ll need this information to switch over your deposits and bill pay information. Some banks offer bonuses to new customers, so you may receive money or a small gift for opening a new account.

Opening a New Account on How to Close a Joint Bank Account

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Use this new account for all of your banking moving forward. That includes paying for your bills, groceries, and other needs.[2] Make sure you leave money in your old account, as well. This will cover any accidental withdrawals made by creditors who haven’t updated your billing information. Additionally, make sure you have funds to cover any outstanding checks you may have. Money might be tight as you switch between bank accounts. However, this will protect you from paying unwanted overdraft or returned payment fees.

Opening a New Account on How to Close a Joint Bank Account

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Meet with your human resources (HR) or payroll representative at work to switch your paycheck to your new account. You’ll likely need to fill out a form and sign your name approving the switch.[3] When you receive your next paycheck, make sure it went into the new account. If it didn’t, contact HR or payroll. You may have other direct deposit checks, as well. For example, university students may receive a refund check for excess student loan, grant, or scholarship funds. These direct deposits will also need to be updated. If a deposit is sent to your account after it’s closed, the bank may reopen it and will charge you their typical service fees.[4]

Opening a New Account on How to Close a Joint Bank Account

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Log in to your billing account and find your payment information. Follow the instructions for that particular billing account to change your billing information. Be sure to give them the correct bank account and routing numbers. Then, confirm your changes.[5] For example, you may have your utility bills, credit card payments, car loan payments, phone payments, student loan payments, and other bills set up for automatic monthly payments from your bank account. Remember to check your accounts as each autopay bill goes through. Make sure your payments are all coming from the new account.

Opening a New Account on How to Close a Joint Bank Account

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This includes transfers to your savings account, money market account, and similar transactions. All of these transfers should now come out of your new account, if you plan to continue them.[6] For example, your account might be set to automatically transfer $100 into your savings account on the 1st of every month. It’s important that you turn off this feature, since you won’t be using the joint account anymore.

Part 2
Withdrawing or Transferring Your Account Balance

Withdrawing or Transferring Your Account Balance on How to Close a Joint Bank Account

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Monitor your account during this time to watch for unexpected charges. This protects you from accidentally bouncing checks. Similarly, it will avoid a missed payment if you forgot to transfer an autopay bill.[7] If you're worried the other account holder is going to take your money, you might decide it's better to go ahead and withdraw your funds. Choose the best decision for your situation so you face the least amount of risk. If you are going through a divorce, you can request an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO) from the court to protect the account from your partner, if necessary.[8]

Withdrawing or Transferring Your Account Balance on How to Close a Joint Bank Account

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Any money in the account will belong to all of the joint account holders, unless a court order says otherwise. The account balance will need to be $0 before the bank allows you to close the account.[9] If you have a balance, you and your partner will need to withdraw or transfer your funds. You can do this when you go to close the account if you visit the bank together. If your account is overdrawn, meaning it’s in the negative, you or your partner will need to pay the funds owed to the bank before you can close the account.[10]

Withdrawing or Transferring Your Account Balance on How to Close a Joint Bank Account

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You can withdraw or transfer the funds from the account. If you withdraw all the funds, your bank will issue you a cashier’s check. If you’d prefer to transfer the funds, follow your new bank’s protocol for transferring funds.[11] Your bank can issue a cashier’s check to each account holder so that each person gets their share of the funds. If your joint bank account is a savings account, there may be restrictions on how many withdrawals you can make in a given period of time. In the United States, for example, the Federal Reserve Board limits withdrawals from money market and savings accounts to just 6 every month.[12]

Part 3
Completing the Closure

Completing the Closure on How to Close a Joint Bank Account

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Some banks will allow one of the account holders to close a joint account by themselves, as long as the account is already empty. Check with your bank to see if you can do it alone, if you’d prefer that.[13] If your bank doesn’t allow you to close the account by yourself, you’ll need to arrange to go to the bank with the other account holders.[14]

Completing the Closure on How to Close a Joint Bank Account

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Most banks require you to go to a branch in person so they can have you prove your identity. Bring your ID to show the bank representative.[15] The bank representative may make a copy of your driver's license to keep for their records. You can find the branch closest to you by visiting your bank’s website. Some banks will allow you to close an account via the phone if you don’t have any money left in the account, so check the rules for your bank.

Completing the Closure on How to Close a Joint Bank Account

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A bank representative will provide the form to you at your local branch. Provide all of the required information, then sign your name before returning the form to the representative.[16] The form should only take a few minutes to complete. If you have any questions about the form, the representative will be there to help you.

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In some cases, the bank representative will provide you this documentation immediately. However, some banks will email you your verification letter or send it through the mail.[17] Save this for your records.

Completing the Closure on How to Close a Joint Bank Account

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These items are no longer valid since the account they are tied to is closed. If you accidentally use them as payment, they will be rejected or you will owe fees for nonpayment.[18] You also don’t want to risk these items falling into the wrong hands, so don’t just throw them away or store them. Shredding them is the safest way to protect yourself.

Completing the Closure on How to Close a Joint Bank Account

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A customer service representative will walk you through the process of closing your account. Write down their name, the date you called, and any confirmation details they provide. Additionally, ask them to send a confirmation letter or email that proves you closed the account.[19] They’ll likely ask you to confirm who is on the account. This can include having your provide just the names and address on the account. However, you may also be asked to supply birthdays and other identifying information. If you use an online bank but aren't sure you can close your account over the phone, it still helps to call and talk to a representative. They can explain the procedure for closing your account and may even talk you through the process.

Part 4
Taking a Name Off a Joint Account

Taking a Name Off a Joint Account on How to Close a Joint Bank Account

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This means you’re the main account holder, which usually only happens if you added someone to your existing account or put all of the money into the account. Call the bank and ask a representative if you are the primary account holder. As another option, it may be listed in your online banking profile or on your bank statements. If you’re the primary account holder, you can take the other person off the account without their permission.[20] Most joint bank accounts are mutually shared, so you’re likely not going to be listed as a primary account holder.

Taking a Name Off a Joint Account on How to Close a Joint Bank Account

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You will both need to go to the bank together to sign the paperwork. However, it’s a simple process once you’re at the bank.[21] Find the closest bank branch to you by visiting their website.

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They’ll likely make copies of your ID and the other person’s ID for their records. If you or the joint account holder don’t have proper ID, you won’t be able to remove the person’s name from your account.[22] In some cases, they may require 2 forms ID. This might include your driver’s license, along with your passport, military ID card, or social security card. Check with your bank to find out what types of ID they require and if all forms of ID need to have photos.

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They will provide both you and the joint account holder a form to complete in order to request that a name to be removed from the account. Make sure you fill it out accurately and honestly, then sign your name.[23] This should be a simple form that takes just a few minutes to complete.