Top 5 Reasons that Seniors Should Avoid Sharing a Joint Bank Account with an Adult Child

Older citizens often believe that adding one of their adult children to their bank account will make paying recurring bills and managing finances easier, but the reality is that it often has dire consequences. Once the account becomes a jointly owned bank account, the funds belong to both account holders equally. This means bank employees do not need to get the permission of both owners to transfer or withdraw all the funds.

Here are 5 reasons adding an adult child to your bank account if not a good idea:

  • Unintentional Disinheritance
    • When one account holder dies, the money in a jointly owned account automatically belongs to the other account holder without passing through probate. If the parent had wanted to disburse those funds between all their children, this could have the opposite effect.
  • Risk of Intentional Loss
    • For even the best child, the temptations of a windfall of money is too great. Once they are added to their parent’s account, they may feel that there is no true harm by taking some “early.”
  • Risk of Unintentional Loss
    • Adding a child to a bank account may also expose the parent’s hard earned money to that child’s creditors.
  • Risk of Meddling “Outlaws”
    • If a parent does not like or trust their adult child’s spouse, being on a join bank account with that child could have unfortunate results. If the child’s spouse has Power of Attorney of that child, they would have access to those funds if they had to act in the child’s place.
  • Unexpected Risk
    • If the child needs to apply for public benefits after being added to the bank account, the funds may need to be spent before the child can qualify. The child would not be able to remove his or her name from the bank account because most programs for public benefits would consider this transaction an uncompensated gift or transfer to the parent that would otherwise create a period of ineligibility for the child to receive any benefits.

See Kara Gansmann, Top 5 Reasons that Seniors Should Avoid Sharing a Joint Bank Account with an Adult Child,, April 20, 2019.

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