How can I Close Our Joint Account?
Q.How can you dissolve a joint account when the other person has left and not left directions to close the account?
Joint accounts have a number of clear and significant advantages. Most couples who live together choose to take out a joint bank account as it minimises hassle when paying bills and rent. Similarly, many people see it as an important symbol of trust in their partner and vice versa. Clearly, however, relationships sometimes end acrimoniously. In these cases, the joint bank account can prove problematic.
The ease with which you can close this account will depend on the current nature of your relationship with the co-signatory, and on the policies of the bank in question. It may seem obvious, but wherever possible your first step should be to try and contact the co-signatory and negotiate the closure of the account together. This will make the process far easier, and there is likely to be less confusion over any outstanding balances if you can carry out the closure amicably.
There are many cases, however, where this is simply not possible. If you are no longer in contact with the co-signatory, or do not know where to find them, then you will have to take the matter up with the bank. Some banks make life very difficult; Abbey National, for example, have reportedly refused to close joint accounts in the past, even when one of the signatories is running up debts for which both will be liable. However, other banks can be more reasonable. In the best case scenario, some banks will freeze the account if they are informed of the break-up of the co-signatories’ relationship. While this will not mean that the account is closed, it will ensure that no transactions can take place. More likely, however, is that your bank will issue what is known as a “both parties to sign” order. This operates in much the same way as a freezing of the account. Essentially, a block will be put on all over-the-counter transactions (and, in some cases, on ATM withdrawals) until both signatories have signed the order and agreed to have the account reinstated. Clearly, you would be under no obligation to sign the order.
If you cannot get in touch with the co-signatory, your next step should therefore be to contact your bank. As can be seen, the procedure varies from institution to institution, and you should seek specific guidance from your own bank manager.