Is taking money from a joint account stealing, know more: If your name is on a joint bank account, then it would not be theft if you withdraw the funds. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t be sued for half the funds or even more than half, but you cannot be prosecuted criminally.

Is Taking Money From A Joint Account Stealing For A Spouse Without Permission?

As a couple, is taking money from a joint account stealing? When a couple gets married, they usually make a very important decision early on. Will they combine or keep their bank accounts separate? After the wedding, you can even decide to have an account together, although you will keep a separate location for part of your money.

However, if you have your own account, your spouse’s rights to it are limited, which can complicate things if you have to go to the bank to get some money for yourself.


A spouse cannot legally withdraw money from a bank account unless they are listed as an account holder.

While married

When opening a bank account of any kind, you indicate who is authorized to enter that account. If you revoked the account when you were single and your spouse never added it, you are the only person authorized to take action on that account.

As long as you are alive, your spouse cannot withdraw money from this account. The same rules apply to any account your spouse has without your name. You cannot access money unless your spouse is by your side when you arrive at the bank.

There are benefits to adding your spouse to your bank account, although it gives you all the rights to withdraw the money without your permission. A joint account means that your spouse can deposit and withdraw money for you.

This can be helpful if you’re recovering from surgery or just having an extremely busy week. It can also simplify your budget as you don’t have to decide which expenses go from your funds and which go from yours.

During and after divorce

If things don’t work out for you and your spouse, your account situation can get complicated. The joint accounts you have are likely to be split under the laws of your state. If you live in one of the nine community-owned states, the judge will divide the assets equally, without you seeing unfairly apportioning states at their discretion.

In these states, which make up the vast majority, judges can take into account the length of their marriage and each spouse’s income contribution to their various assets. In any state, your accounts can be included in this division.

During the divorce process, your spouse will not be able to access accounts that you had separately, just as they would during your marriage. However, your spouse’s attorney may require you to provide information about the assets you have in personal accounts, and you may ask your spouse to do the same.

If you are concerned that your spouse will withdraw all of the money from a joint account during the divorce proceeding, you can request that the account be frozen, but you must provide convincing evidence that your spouse is likely to withdraw significant amounts from the account.

After death

If you die, your spouse may have trouble accessing money from your personal accounts. You can make this easier by first making sure he knows where these accounts are. You can also simplify it by designating yourself as a death beneficiary on the account.

The money remains inaccessible during your life, but after your death, your spouse can simply access it by showing the bank proof of your death.

But if you die without giving that clue, your personal bank accounts will likely have to go through inventory, especially if the balance is significant. Another option is to transfer your bank account to a live syndicate that you have created.

This living trust will not only prevent your assets from being processed but will also refer the account to the person you named as your designated survivor.

Is Taking Money From A Joint Account Stealing – FAQ

What problems can arise with joint accounts?

While joint accounts can be very useful, they can also cause problems and lead to disputes over who owns the money in the account. This may be due to:

What usually happens to a joint account when a co-account holder dies?

A joint account with funds contributed by account holders in unequal shares

The joint account only holds funds from a joint account holder.

Anyone named in the account can withdraw money from the account (although sometimes joint permission is required)

The relationship between joint account holders breaks down, for example, if a couple breaks up

What happens if a co-account holder dies?

This blog explains what happens to a joint account of a bank or mortgage lender if the account holder dies. When this happens, the money in the joint account usually automatically transfers to the surviving account holder, which is known as “survival.” This means that no money is transferred from the joint account to the assets of the deceased account holder.

What can I do to avoid problems with joint bank?

The easiest way to avoid problems with joint bank/real estate accounts is to keep the funds separate, but this isn’t always possible. However, it is important:

  • Think about whether it is necessary to have a joint account or whether there is another possibility, for example. Create a permanent power of attorney – to allow a family member to manage your finances if you are no longer able to do so;
  • Document the intentions of the account holders about how the money in a joint account is owned and should be used;
  • Understand how the HMRC can treat the joint account for estate taxes in the event of your death;
  • Consider whether restrictions should be placed on the account, e.g. from both account holders to agree to any withdrawals; and
  • Mention any joint accounts with your attorney when making your will and what you want to happen to the joint account upon your death.

Can I transfer money from a joint account to an individual account?

Yes. Unless your account has special terms and conditions, any joint account signer can withdraw money from it (thus transferring money into a single account).

All account holders can pay or withdraw money from the same account. Useful when managing shared finances with, for example, different partners paying different bills – but it means joint account holders must and can trust each other.

A joint account is a bank account opened in the name of more than one person (usually held by couples, although it can be two or more people).

Who owns the funds in a joint account?

The money in joint accounts belongs to both owners. Either person can withdraw or use as much of the money as they want — even if they weren’t the one to deposit the funds. The bank makes no distinction between money deposited by one person or the other.

How do I remove my husband from a joint account?

Most importantly, your spouse must consent to be removed from the account.

  • Review your account documents to determine your rights to remove a name from the account.
  • Speak to your wife and obtain her consent to remove her name from the checking account.

What happens when one person on a joint bank account dies?

The vast majority of banks set up all of their joint accounts as “Joint with Rights of Survivorship” (JWROS). This type of account ownership generally states that upon the death of either of the owners, the assets will automatically transfer to the surviving owner.

How do you remove someone from a joint bank account?

One way joint account holders remove their names from a joint account is to close the joint account entirely and then open up a new account in one name only. Again, since both of you share legal rights and responsibilities on the account, both of you must consent to close the account.

Can one person transfer money from a joint account?

The bank can’t transfer money out of your joint account to cover the debt on your sole account unless all the joint account holders agree.

What happens if you have a joint account with someone?

When you have a joint account with someone, their problems often become your problems. Bank fees like overdrafts are applied to a joint account balance regardless of who triggers them, and the creditors of another account holder can seize the balance by court order even if other account holders have no part in the debt.

How many people can have a joint bank account?

Generally, joint accounts allow up to two account holders, but some providers allow for even more. Before opening a joint savings account, consider if it’s right for your financial situation.

Can you transfer money from one joint account to another?

Yes, you can transfer between your individual and joint investment and cash accounts. Within accounts held at Betterment, we only allow transfers involving individual and joint investing accounts if you are listed as married to the account owner.

Who is the primary holder of a joint bank account?

While some banks may label one person as the primary account holder, that doesn’t change the fact everyone owns everything—together. Once the money is deposited, all of it belongs fully and equally to each account holder regardless of the source.

Once an account is established, any account holder can also close the account entirely.

Can I sue someone for withdrawing money from a joint account?

Yes, you can sue, but I doubt you will win if there is no agreement, or emails, etc. restricting the use of funds. Otherwise, both joint account owners have equal legal access to funds. This is a civil action and I very much doubt that the police see it as a criminal case.