Adding Others to Your Accounts: Understand the Risks

Tuesday, February 11 at 09:20 AM
Category: Personal Finance

Consumers often wonder about whether or how to add someone else, usually a relative, to a bank account. These decisions are not to be taken lightly. Here is guidance about the implications of adding names onto deposit accounts and loans.

Adding co-owners to a deposit account versus alternative arrangements. Under FDIC rules, a joint account is a deposit account owned by two or more people who have equal rights to withdraw 100 percent of the deposits and to close the account.

"For a couple wishing to share common funds, the upside is that each person may write checks and pay bills from the account, which is certainly a convenience in managing a household or as someone needs assistance," said Joni Creamean, chief of the FDIC's Consumer Response Center.

In addition, each co-owner is insured for up to $250,000 for his or her share in all joint accounts at an insured bank.

If you are uncomfortable adding someone as an owner on your account, you can obtain a power of attorney, giving the other person limited access to your deposit account on an as-needed basis without granting ownership rights. Arvest offers powers of attorney designed for the account only. Contact your local Arvest branch from more information.

Adding co-owners versus "authorized users" to a credit card account. A co-owner is financially responsible for all debt incurred, including any charges by an authorized user. Depending on the cardholder agreement, authorized users may or may not be financially responsible for any debt on the card. A card owner also may be able to place restrictions on authorized users, such as limits on amounts that can be charged.

Think carefully before you co-sign a loan. "If the other co-signer does not pay the debt, you will have to," Creamean said. "You may also have to pay late fees and collection costs, which increase the debt amount. Additionally, your credit rating could be affected if this person fails to pay or pays late."

For more information visit the FDIC website* or contact them with your questions at (877) 275-3342. Want more guidance about adding names to accounts? Consider consulting an attorney, your banker or another advisor.

The views of this article are for general information use only. Please contact and speak with a subject expert when specific advice is needed. Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

Article edited 2/13/2014.

Tags: Financial Education
Zanieth Michael Stevens on 8/20/2018 at 7:58 AM
My grandmother is unable to get out of the house and she is needing me to be put on the account if any health illnesses occur to her so I can take over her bills. How do I go about getting added to her account
Arvest Blog Admin on 8/21/2018 at 3:25 PM
Hi Zanieth, to add an owner to a deposit account, an existing account owner must come to the bank along with the person to be added. The existing owner and person to be added must bring government issued personal identification. More details can be found online:

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