Authorized Signer vs. Joint Owner

06/18/2012

Question:

What is the difference between an authorized signer and a joint owner on an account?

Answer:

It’s important to know the distinction between an "authorized signer" and a "joint owner". These two phrases are often thought to mean the same thing. However, "signer" and "owner" have very different meanings:

Many people choose to have an authorized signer in case of an emergency. For example, an authorized signer for a checking account is allowed to sign checks, make withdrawals, and, in some circumstances, they may be privy to other information, such as account balance and activity. This individual may also hold a power of attorney from the owner of the account (although that's not always necessary). An important note to remember is that an authorized signer’s privileges are only legitimate while the account owner is alive and if the account owner were to die, those privileges would cease.

A joint owner, with the right of survivorship, owns the funds in the particular account and has all rights to the funds, including removing the funds and closing the account. For this reason, it is important to truly know and trust the other joint account owner(s) on your account as they have the same rights to the funds that you do.

If you have any questions about whether you are an owner or an authorized signer on an account, contact the Bank and ask. We are always willing to help answer any of your banking questions. Feel free to stop by the office, make an appointment or call us!