How to Remove Someone From a Joint Account

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by Subject Matter Experts

Updated on September 08, 2023

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What Is a Joint Account?

A joint account refers to a bank account that is shared and co-owned by two or more individuals. These individuals, often referred to as account holders or joint owners, share equal access and rights to the funds within the account.

Unlike individual accounts, which are solely owned by a single person, joint accounts allow all named individuals the ability to deposit, withdraw, and manage funds as they see fit.

The main purpose of a joint account is to facilitate shared financial responsibilities among the account holders.

It's common among couples, business partners, or family members who have collective financial obligations, such as paying bills, mortgages, or handling household expenses.

By pooling their resources into a joint account, they can streamline their finances, making it easier to manage shared costs.

Steps to Remove Someone From a Joint Account

Removing an individual from a joint bank account is not always a straightforward process, as various factors can influence the steps required.

However, understanding the general procedure can provide clarity and ensure the removal is smooth and efficient.

Step 1: Initiate Contact With Bank

Before taking any action, the first step is to reach out to your bank or financial institution. This can be done by either visiting your local branch, calling their customer service line, or checking their website.

Different banks have different procedures, and understanding these will guide your subsequent actions. However, some actions, due to their significance, might require an in-person visit to ensure security and verify the identities of all parties involved.

Step 2: Obtain and Fill Out the Necessary Forms

Once you understand your bank's procedure, the next step typically involves obtaining the required documentation.

These can range from simple account modification forms to more complex legal documents, especially if there's a dispute between the joint account holders. Ensure you fill out these forms accurately.

Inaccuracies can cause delays or even lead to the request being declined. You might need to provide details like the account number, names of all account holders, and specific instructions regarding the removal.

Step 3: Provide Identification

For security reasons, banks require verification of identity before making significant changes to an account. This step ensures that unauthorized individuals can't make changes to your bank account without consent.

Be prepared to provide identification, such as a driver's license, passport, or any other form of ID your bank accepts.

If you're initiating the process online, some banks might require a scanned copy of your ID, while others could use more advanced verification methods, like video calls, to confirm your identity.

Step 4: Securing Consent

Most joint accounts are set up in a way that requires the consent of all account holders for significant changes, including removing someone from the account.

This means that even if you wish to remove an individual (or yourself) from the account, the other joint holder(s) might also need to provide their agreement, either by signing the necessary forms or providing verbal or written consent to the bank.

Step 5: Close and Reopen, If Necessary

As mentioned earlier, not all banks allow the straightforward removal of an individual's name from a joint account.

If this is the case with your bank, the most common solution is to close the existing joint account and open a new individual account or another joint account with the desired holders.

During this process, ensure all outstanding checks or scheduled payments from the old account are addressed to prevent any issues or potential overdrafts.

Once the old account is closed, the funds will typically be transferred to the new account or issued as a check.

After this, you'll need to set up any automatic payments, direct deposits, or other services linked to your old account with your new account details.

Steps to Remove Someone From a Joint Account

Legal Liabilities When Removing a Name From a Joint Bank Account

Joint bank accounts are governed by various legal principles and statutes, depending on the jurisdiction.

When contemplating removing a name from such an account, it's essential to understand the associated legal liabilities to avoid complications and potential disputes.

Here's an overview of some common legal liabilities associated with this action:

Breach of Agreement

  • Bank's Agreement: The terms and conditions established by the bank when the joint account was created may have provisions about the removal of names. Breaching these terms might result in penalties or legal actions by the bank.

  • Private Agreement Between Co-owners: Sometimes, joint account holders enter into a separate, private agreement outlining the terms of using the joint account.

If one party removes another without adhering to this agreement, they might be legally liable for breaching the contract.

Outstanding Debts and Obligations

If the joint account has outstanding debts or financial obligations (like overdrafts or loans), all parties are typically considered jointly and severally liable.

This means that if one party is removed, the remaining account holder(s) could be responsible for the entire amount owed.

Conversely, a departing account holder might still be pursued for the debt even after their name is removed, especially if the debt originated before their departure.

Tax Implications

In certain jurisdictions, transferring funds during the removal of a name might be viewed as a gift or an asset transfer, which could have tax implications. Both the giver and the receiver should be aware of potential gift tax or other related tax liabilities.

Misappropriation or Unauthorized Withdrawals

If a name is removed without the knowledge or consent of that individual and if funds are withdrawn or moved in the process, it can be considered misappropriation or theft. Such actions can have both civil and criminal legal consequences.

Issues in Divorce or Separation

In the context of a marital or relationship breakdown, joint accounts often become a focal point of asset division.

Removing a name without mutual agreement or without following legal protocols can be seen as an attempt to hide or misappropriate assets. This can heavily influence divorce settlements or court decisions on asset distribution.

Death of an Account Holder

In the event one of the joint account holders passes away, the process of removing their name is governed by specific legal protocols.

For example, many joint accounts operate on a "right of survivorship" principle, where the deceased's share automatically transfers to the surviving holder.

However, if the deceased's will or estate plan specifies a different arrangement, or if the joint account is set up without a right of survivorship, removing the deceased's name without following the proper legal channels could lead to liabilities.

Future Disputes

In cases where the removal process isn't clear or transparent, or if there are disagreements over the distribution of funds, future legal disputes can arise.

It's essential to maintain clear records of all transactions, agreements, and communications related to the removal process to mitigate potential future liabilities.

Legal Liabilities When Removing a Name From a Joint Bank Account

Reasons Why Someone Might Need to Be Removed

There are numerous reasons why someone might need to be removed from a joint account:

Dissolution of Relationship

The end of a romantic relationship, especially separation or divorce, often requires a thorough division of shared assets. Joint bank accounts are typically one of the primary financial assets that need to be addressed.

In these circumstances, it's common for one or both parties to want to remove the other to protect their financial interests. This desire can be particularly strong if there's a fear of financial misappropriation by the other party, especially in contentious breakups.

Death of an Account Holder

When a joint account holder passes away, it becomes necessary to address the deceased individual's financial affairs. This often involves transferring their assets to a sole account or dividing them among heirs.

Additionally, removing their name from a joint account can prevent potential legal complications associated with the deceased person's estate.

Financial Mismanagement

Maintaining a joint account demands financial responsibility from all parties involved. If one account holder consistently overspends, leading the account into overdraft, it may become crucial to separate the finances.

Such behaviors not only affect the joint account but can also damage credit scores, prompting the more financially responsible party to seek separation.

Emergence of Trust Issues

Trust is foundational in any joint financial arrangement. If suspicions or evidence arise that one account holder is making questionable financial decisions, it might prompt the other to reconsider the joint arrangement.

This is especially true in instances of suspected fraud or embezzlement.

Desire for Financial Independence

Over time, an individual's financial goals or circumstances might change. One account holder may wish to manage their finances independently, without the oversight or influence of the other party.

This can be particularly relevant when someone is looking to start a business or embark on significant personal investments.

Disagreements Over Financial Goals

Each person has unique financial objectives influenced by their life goals, values, and circumstances. Sometimes, joint account holders might find their views on saving, spending or investing diverging significantly.

Such disagreements, especially on major financial decisions like property purchase or significant investments, can strain the joint account relationship.

Legal or Debt Issues

Facing legal challenges or mounting debt can have implications for joint account holders. If one party encounters such issues, it might be prudent to remove their name to shield the other account holder from potential financial or legal repercussions.

This also prevents the joint account from becoming a target for debt collectors or legal claims.

Migration or Relocation

Life can often lead individuals across borders, whether for work, family, or other reasons. If an account holder is considering moving to another country or even a different state, they might need to establish financial roots in that new location.

Removing their name from a joint account in one region can simplify the process of setting up finances in another.

Age or Health Concerns

Mental health and capacity can be affected by various factors, including age and medical conditions.

If an account holder starts showing signs of mental incapacitation and struggles to manage their finances, it might be in everyone's best interest to reevaluate the joint account status.

Such changes can also pave the way for appointing a power of attorney or guardian to oversee the individual's financial matters.

Change in Business Partnership

If there's a shift in a business partnership, such as a dissolution or a change in management, it might necessitate a reconfiguration of financial assets, including joint bank accounts.

This ensures the business assets remain protected and appropriately managed.

Reasons Why Someone Might Need to Be Removed From a Joint Account


A joint account is a shared bank account co-owned by two or more individuals, granting equal access and control over the funds within it.

Removing someone from a joint account requires careful consideration and adherence to legal procedures. Initiating contact with the bank, obtaining the necessary forms, and providing identification are essential steps.

Consent from all account holders is often required, and in some cases, closing and reopening the account may be necessary.

However, the process of removal entails potential legal liabilities that should not be overlooked. Breaching agreements, outstanding debts, tax implications, and unauthorized withdrawals are some of the associated risks.

Understanding the complexities involved in removing someone from a joint account can help ensure a smooth and legally compliant process, safeguarding the interests of all parties involved.

How to Remove Someone From a Joint Account FAQs

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.

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