A joint account is a bank or brokerage account that is shared between two or more individuals. Joint accounts are most likely to be used by relatives, couples or business partners who have a level of familiarity and trust with each other, as this type of account typically allows anyone named on the account to access funds within it. There are multiple ways accounts can be established, each with its own implications for how money or assets can be accessed within the account or how the contents of the account are handled after one of the joint holders passes away.
Joint accounts can be established on a permanent basis, such as an account between a couple into which their salaries are deposited, or may be temporary, such as an account between two parties who contribute funds for a short-term purpose. Joint accounts may be very helpful to newer couples who are at the relationship stage of combining their finances. Bank accounts that are held jointly between two parties may be titled with an "and" or an "or" between the account holders' names. If the account is "and," then both/all parties must sign to access the funds. If it is "or," then only one of the parties needs to sign.
There are several titling mechanics that designate how the fund will be divided if one of the parties on the account passes away. These options are required on brokerage accounts.