So things are getting serious and you’re about to make the big move – merging your bank account with your significant other. Once you’re living together, sharing most of the same expenses, or getting married, it definitely seems easier to share bank accounts. But while that may mean finally explaining your Saks or Whole Foods habit, you and your SO need to discuss more than just your (perfectly normal) spending habits.
Joint accounts means completely joint. Both people have unrestricted access to the accounts, and are equally liable for account activity, including fees. If you’re married, once the account is ‘joint,’ all money that goes into it becomes marital property, meaning that the funds are owned jointly by each of you. In some states, both spouses own equal interest in the account. In others (the minority), each spouse owns half of all assets acquired during the marriage, including the funds in a joint account. A partner in these states is allowed to move his or her funds in the joint account without notifying the other spouse and with no requirement for her signature. And although state laws vary, debt collectors can usually reach the funds in a joint account to satisfy either spouse’s debts or financial obligations, such as child support, taxes, loans and unpaid bills. Usually debt collectors are only available to reach half of the account to pay your spouse’s debt, but in some states they can take the whole thing.
The Verdict: Whether to have joint accounts is a personal decision every couple should make. Make sure you communicate so there are no surprises.
Now that that’s done, it’s time to register. You and your significant other are sure to agree that shopping without actually spending any money is the best way to do it. My favorite registry finds are below!
- Trust me, you need these.
- My rule for china is pick something you don’t think you’ll hate in 10 years.
- My favorite item off my registry.
- I use this frother every morning to make a homemade “latte” with almond milk. Best part of my day!
- This Vitamix makes everything – smoothies, pesto, even whipped cream! If I retire from lawyering I’m going to become a Vitamix salesperson.