Choosing the best account for you and your spouse

If you and your spouse have been living together for a while and want to start saving for purchases or projects, a joint account might sound like the ideal solution. Although it could make it easier to manage shared expenses and savings, a joint account can actually be a source of conflict. Before you decide, take the following steps into consideration.

Step 1: Make sure you and your spouse have reached a solid level of trust. This is essential given that the 2 of you will be able to make transactions out of the same account (withdrawals, transfers, deposits, cheques, etc.).

Step 2: Discuss the pros and cons of joint accounts and individual accounts while taking into consideration your personal situation.

  • A joint account can be a useful tool, but, in case of doubt, it may be better to stay away from it. Many couples choose to have separate accounts, and they are just as happy.
  • Some couples choose to have a joint account. Instead of having individual accounts, they put all their income in a single account from which each withdraws money according to his or her needs. However, this financial arrangement can have significant drawbacks in the event of separation or if one of the spouses dies (see below).
  • Having both an individual account and a joint account could be the ideal solution for you and your spouse.

Step 3: Determine clearly and precisely how this account will be used.

  • What is the purpose of this account? For the rent or mortgage payments? To save for a trip? To pay for everyday expenses, like groceries?
  • Who will pay what?
  • How much will each person deposit, and how often (weekly, every pay, monthly)?
  • How will transactions be made?
  • What are your savings objectives and those of your spouse?

What happens if one of the account holders dies?

In Quebec, the joint account is frozen until the estate is settled, which may take weeks or even months. It may therefore be wise to deposit your income in an individual account first, and then have the funds automatically transferred into a joint account. This way, if a co-holder passes away, the surviving spouse need only put an immediate end to the transfers.

What happens in the event of separation?

You and your spouse should agree to close the account rapidly should the relationship be terminated. This would, for example, keep a furious or dishonest spouse from emptying the account.

Tools and tips

Divorce or separation

Divorces and separations are emotionally demanding situations that also put a strain on the couple's finances. The Getting divorced or separated action plan covers all the aspects that require your attention: budget, estate settlement, insurance, division of property, taxation.

View action plan - Getting divorced or separated