Joint Accounts with Your Child: Is It Right for You?

In a joint account, each account owner has the right to manage the account entirely, including depositing or withdrawing funds. For seniors, opening a joint account with an adult child can be a simple way both to get some help with finances and to pass money along to that child upon death. But depending on your circumstances, this simple mechanism may be more trouble than it’s worth. Here are some of the pros and cons of opening a joint bank account with your child to consider.


Your child can monitor the account and help you keep an eye out for suspicious transactions.

Your child can withdraw cash as needed to pay for your expenses and make deposits for you.

Your child will have immediate access to the money when you pass away without going through the probate process.


Your child’s creditor can access funds from the joint account to settle your child’s debts.

The joint account assets could affect college financial aid eligibility for your child’s family.

Your Medicaid eligibility for long-term care costs could be affected if your child makes withdrawals from the account because that could be considered a transfer of assets from you to your child.

There can be tax complications with a joint account.

  • If the account earns interest, both you and your child must report the interest earned on your federal income tax return
  • Joint accounts may cause gift tax consequences if the co-owners aren’t spouses.
  • As a non-probate asset, the joint account assets can be subject to estate taxes when you pass away.

If you have more than one child, all the money in the joint account going to the child on the account after you pass away, could cause disharmony among siblings.

While this brief list of pros and cons is not exhaustive, it should provide some insight into what the decision-making process looks like. Every situation is different and

a joint account may be a good solution for some assets and for some family situations.

Meet with a Virginia Elder Law Attorney

If you’re considering financial safeguards for yourself, it may be time to discuss something more robust, such as a power of attorney. It’s easier to put financial safeguards in place when you’re still competent to sign the documents. If you’d like to discuss appointing a financial caregiver and determine an appropriate timeline, contact Wilson Law PLC at (866) 603-5976 to schedule an appointment.