What you'll learn in this article
This article describes how a Shared account is owned, and what that means from a legal perspective. The information you'll find here is super important, and it's a good idea to read through it before opening a Shared account.
If you're looking for step-by-step instructions on opening and using a Shared account, head on over to the Getting Started With Shared article.
Who "owns" a Shared account?
Brace yourself: we’ve got some important legal information to share with you, and it’s going to involve some alarming hypotheticals. We hate to be a downer, but preparing for the unexpected is a key part of smart financial planning.
To help prevent these hypotheticals, we recommend opening a Shared account only with someone you know and trust completely. Take the time to talk about your financial histories and the way you’re planning to use the Shared account before opening it.
Who can withdraw funds from a Shared Account?
Simple Shared accounts are co-owned; each of the joint owners has the legal right to all the funds in the account and the ability to close it without the other owner’s permission.
If you open a Shared account, and the other account owner withdraws all the funds, Simple is not able to pull the money back or cancel any payments and transfers. (Though you might be able to recover the funds by taking legal action.)
What if a Shared Account balance is negative, or one owner owes money?
Both account owners are responsible for any negative balance in a Shared account, and they’ll both be liable if the account is closed for that negative balance or fraud. Plus, Simple can offset a Shared account’s negative balance by pulling funds from either person’s individual account, even if they weren’t the one to draw the Shared account negative.
Co-ownership also means that the account is subject to levies or garnishments for both owners; if a creditor or governmental agency has a valid levy or garnishment order, the entire balance of the account can be frozen and given to the creditor (even if the order only applies to one account holder).
What if something happens to one person on a shared account?
All Simple Shared accounts are opened as joint accounts with Right of Survivorship. This means that if one of the people on the account dies, their right to the funds in the account immediately transfers to the other account owner (not to the estate of the deceased owner). If you have an end of life document, it’s a good idea to talk to a Trusts and Estates attorney before opening a Simple Shared account.