Single vs. Joint Account: What is it and which should you open?

Single and Joint Accounts are very similar, except for one major difference: a joint account can be shared by two or more people, whereas a single account can only have one account holder.

Contrary to popular belief, joint bank accounts are not only for couples. They can be used by family members who share responsibilities (and ownership) of a family cottage, roommates who share ownership of their dwelling (such as a condo), or between a parent and their child. Depending on your situation, a joint account may be right for you and the others involved. Let's explore which type of ownership might be right for you, and why.

What is a joint account?

A joint account is a chequing or savings account that is in the name of two or more people (at TD, you can add up to 9 people on a joint account). The account holders can conduct transactions (including withdrawals and debits) and sign payment instruments, regardless of who deposited the funds in the account and whether this action creates or increases an overdraft on the account. Everyone involved must decide whether joint consent is required to perform these types of transactions – or if these are things that any of the account holders can do on their own.

As a joint account holder, you share equal responsibility for the transactions made through the account.

Advantages of opening a joint bank account

A joint deposit account is especially useful for couples and in situations where there is shared ownership and expenses involved.

When it’s a joint account, this can help reduce the questions, confusion and sometimes awkward conversations around who’s paying for what – and more importantly, if it’s been paid yet.

Just as a joint chequing account is intended for managing every day expenses, such as rent, mortgage and utilities, a joint savings account can be useful for individuals who would like to set aside money for shared goals.

By having a shared savings account, you can contribute to it and watch it grow together, making that renovation, vacation, or even down payment on a home that much more achievable.

Disadvantages of opening a joint account

When it comes to the activity within a joint account, all account holders are able to view the transactions being made in the account. Keep in mind that you won't have control over the transactions and withdrawals the other person makes in the same account. Because of this, it’s important to have open lines of communication and manage everyone’s expectations prior to opening a joint account.

Why you should consider having a single or joint account

For some, it’s not uncommon to have two accounts: a single (savings or chequing) account as well as a joint account.

If you’ve been working hard to pay off your student debt, saving for retirement, or putting money aside for that dream vacation – you may want to consider keeping a single account for your own single goals.

Remember, setting financial goals – whatever those may be – does not need to be tied to the joint account. Some joint account holders also have a single single account. This can be used for achieving single financial goals, managing individual finances or other situations.

Joint chequing account vs joint saving account

Below is a simple breakdown for comparison and understanding.

When a Joint Chequing Account makes sense:

  • Desire to build a shared budget with your partner
  • Want to easily manage shared expenses with your child
  • To establish financial maturity in a relationship with shared finances

When a Joint Savings Account makes sense:

  • You and your partner are ready to start saving as a team
  • To build an emergency, rainy day fund
  • You have shared financial goals with your family that you want to work towards

Remember, as you grow with your relationship, so will your financial goals. It’s always advised to keep an open mind and adjust certain expectations – and future plans – accordingly.

What happens in the event of a death of a Joint Account Holder

If you have a joint account with someone and that person dies, what happens to the joint account depends on the terms that govern the joint account and the direction provided by the account holders at the time the joint account was opened.

In some cases, with the joint account after death, it may have a right of survivorship. This allows TD Canada Trust to pay the account balance directly to the surviving joint account holder(s). For more information on what happens to your joint account when one of the joint account holders dies, you can learn more in our Financial Services Terms agreement.

Note: In Québec, we may limit access to the joint account upon the death of one of the joint account holders. Talk to us about how this works.

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