How To Cancel A Joint Bank Account

Learning how to cancel a joint bank account involves working with the joint owner of the bank account. Banking laws differ from state to state, but there are some basics to consider before closing down an account and common steps to getting out of the legal requirements. You'll need a few items, including:

  • legal identification
  • last bank statement
  • bank identification information, including bank account number
  • other person or legal document from that person
  1. Check state laws. How to cancel a joint bank account varies from state to state. Some states allow one owner to simply remove their name from the account and the full account transfers to the co-owner. This is the easy way to get rid of a joint account if your name is simply added to the account. If you opened the account and the co-owner is the one who was simply added, there may be legal problems if you don't drag the co-owner to the bank with you. Call the bank before trucking all your stuff down there and ask what your state, and the bank, requires to get rid of the account. It should be a fairly simple procedure, but you may live in a bizarre state with odd legal requirements. Make sure you note the name of the person on the line so you can meet with the very person when you get to the bank. Nothing worse than getting detailed instructions only to arrive at the bank to find your connection is on vacation and the new teller has an interpretation that defies common sense, as well adds to the list of stuff you needed to dump the account. 
  2. Collect your legal information and most recent bank statements.  For the unorganized, this may be a major achievement. Start early.
  3. Round-up your stuff. Bring your driver's license, or legal identification card, bank statement and something with your signature. If you're a bank groupie or run so close to your account limit that you visit the bank to see how much you have in the account at any given time, you probably know a teller or two and that will help when you get to the bank. The tellers might recognize you from prior visits and this avoids the legality of checking your paperwork. Count on a new teller and bring the official stuff. 
  4. Visit the bank. Get to the bank and fill out the required paperwork. Make sure the interest, if you have an interest bearing account, matches what you have on your statement and remove any money still in the account. Make it clear that you're closing the account since many banks charge fees if the account gets below a certain level. A big zero will probably mean you need to pay an account fee, so ask to sign paperwork to close the account. If this is not required, ask the teller to write or stamp "Account Closed" on the receipt for the transaction that removes all funds from the account. If your state requires the second owner to physically come into the bank to sign paperwork, make sure the joint owner gets the "Closed" paperwork before leaving the bank.
  5. Have your joint banking partner do the same. If you're lucky and the bank knows you well, how to cancel a joint bank account involves doing your thing and allowing the joint account owner to come into the bank and sign the paperwork. If not, you'll need to bring the person along for the cancellation. If this isn't possible, ask about a notarized letter requesting cancellation from the co-owner. Unless you have a notary public living next door, it's probably harder to find a notary than to get the co-signer into the bank. If there are extreme circumstances in closing the account, such as death of the co-owner or a nasty divorce where the account co-owner won't cooperate, a court document may be enough to close the account. In oddball cases, talk to the bank manager before trucking yourself into the bank. A regular teller probably won't be able to handle the closing, so you'll be dealing with a supervisor or manager. 
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