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If you are thinking about adding a family member or trusted individual to your bank account, it is important to understand the differences between an authorized signer and joint owner on that account.
Many people choose to have an authorized signer in case of an emergency or for matters of convenience. For example, an authorized signer on a checking account can sign checks, make withdrawals, and check balances. Older adults often choose to add authorized signers to help them manage finances in the event of illness or disability. The authorized signer may also hold a power of attorney from the account owner, although that’s not always necessary.
It is important to note, authorized signers- including spouses- have no rights to the account’s assets upon death, unless they are listed as the account’s beneficiary. And an authorized signer’s privileges are only legitimate while the account owner is alive.
A joint owner, with the right of survivorship, allows the new joint owner complete access and rights to the funds in the account. They can also remove funds and close the account. And upon death, a joint owner will receive all the bank account assets, even if a will suggests the assets be divided differently.
For these reasons, it is very important to make sure if you choose a joint owner, you know them well and trust them on your account, with the same rights to the funds that you do.
If you have any questions about adding someone to your account or whether you are an owner or an authorized signer, we are here to help. Contact us today to learn more.