A joint bank account is one that is shared by two or more people (account holders) and represents an opportunity for individuals to become more vulnerable to abuse. Account holders to a joint account have equal access to funds and equal responsibility for fees and charges. It is often used by couples to assist in managing bills and other payments.

A joint bank account may be set up as ‘one to sign’ or ‘both to sign’.

When an account is ‘one to sign’ or ‘either to sign’, any account holder can access money in the account without the other person’s formal consent.

When an account is ‘both to sign’, all account holders must agree, or ‘sign’, for a person to access money in the account. Having a joint account that is ‘both to sign’ is less common because it can slow down the process of paying bills and accessing money, which can be inconvenient.

If you, or someone you know, is concerned about a joint account that is ‘one to sign’ and about what the other account holder may do, you can ask the bank to change the instructions to ‘both to sign’.

It is a good idea when setting up a joint account for both account holders to agree how the account will be used, what it can pay for and how much can be withdrawn before they need to consult each other.

Read more about joint accounts on Moneysmart.