Joint bank accounts: what you need to know

When joint bank accounts make the news, the news is rarely good. Last year, for instance, Jon Gosselin of Jon and Kate Plus 8 fame made headlines when he reportedly drained $230,000 out of their checking account. Even going back a century, you can find newspaper articles that include warnings from personal finance experts about such accounts. A 1964 story entitled Joint Bank Account Is Marital Pitfallin the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, quoted one expert as saying, "She doesn't keep track of the checks she writes. And he doesn't either. And before you know it, they're in a dither."

Despite the bad headlines and the misgivings of some experts, having a joint checking or savings account with your spouse isn't really worth worrying about. (Yes, your spouse has the right to drain the account if they want to, but then you have bigger problems in your marriage to contend with). Setting up a joint account with someone you aren't married to, on the other hand, can be a different story altogether.