Sort out joint bank accounts, insurance, bills and other finances with your ex-partner

Money Advice Service

If you and your partner are splitting up, it’s likely that you’ll have some joint finances, such as bank accounts or loans, to sort out. You may also have taken out insurance policies and have bills in both your names that you will need to cancel or transfer. Find out what you need to know and do.

Why you may need to act quickly

Generally, it’s better if you can talk about how you’d like to sort out your joint money, rather than leaving your ex-partner to find out afterwards that you’ve closed down accounts.

But it’s important that you act quickly if you think your ex-partner could run up debts on joint accounts.

That’s because if you have any joint loans or overdrafts, either of you could be asked to repay the full amount.

You should also think about the effect that any joint debt could have on your personal credit rating, as a good credit score means you’re more likely to get cheaper deals when you’re applying for credit.

Another reason to check your score is because you’ll be able to see how you are financially connected. You can check it for free, and there are manageable steps you can take to improve it.

Sorting out your joint bank accounts

Try and agree with your ex-partner what you’d like to do with your joint bank account(s).

If you can’t agree, mediation (using an impartial third party) is often a good way to sort out these practical matters.

You or your ex-partner should contact your bank or building society as soon as you know you’ll be separating.

You should consider:

  • changing the way the account has been set up, so you both have to agree to any money being taken out or overdraft limits being increased.
  • making sure that your wages or benefits go into an account just in your name in the future.
  • asking the bank to suspend telephone and online banking on your joint account(s).
  • working out how you will pay bills that are currently being paid from your joint account. It might be that you agree to continue paying certain bills (such as your rent or mortgage).
  • freezing the account as a last resort if you are worried that your ex-partner will withdraw money. Bear in mind that, while one of you can ask the bank to freeze an account, both of you, normally, have to sign a letter to say you want it ‘un-frozen’. Consider also any difficulties you might face if you have Direct Debits or standing orders coming out of the account or if you make regular payments such as your mortgage or rent, bills or food shopping from it.
  • closing the account, if you don’t have much money in it or you won’t use it in the future. Both of you have to agree – normally in writing – to close a joint account. You won’t be able to do this until any overdraft has been paid off.

Dividing savings

Hopefully, you’ll be able to agree how you will divide any joint savings you have.

How the law treats your right to money in a joint account depends on whereabouts in the UK you live.

England and Wales

If you’re separating from your partner, money in a joint account belongs to the person who paid it in.

But a partner who hasn’t made a contribution to a joint account could make a claim for a share of it.

However, it can be difficult to prove that you own the money in a joint account if you aren’t paying into it.

You have to show that it was the clear intention of the joint account to have a common fund which each person could use.

If you’re married or in a civil partnership, money in a joint account belongs to both of you equally.

Northern Ireland

If you’re separating from your partner, divorcing or dissolving your civil partnership, money in a joint savings account belongs to each of you equally, unless a court decides differently.

Scotland

Money that a married couple or those in a civil partnership have in a joint savings account that was opened during the marriage or civil partnership belongs to the account holders in equal shares.

If you can show that you paid in more money, you might be able to claim an unequal share of the money in the account.

If you’re splitting up having lived together, money you have in joint accounts for household bills or similar would be assumed to belong to both of you in equal shares.

How you go about dividing your savings might depend on the type of account you have.

Second cards on credit and store card accounts

If you have a credit or store card account and your ex-partner has a card for their own use, you are liable to pay for their spending as well as your own.

It’s a fine balance between acting quickly and asking the card company to block the account (which will mean blocking your card as well as your ex-partner’s), and leaving your ex-partner without money if they rely on this card for day-to-day spending.

Try not to do anything rash.

Sorting out joint insurance

If you have a home insurance policy in both your names and, for example, your ex-partner is moving out, you might have to ask him or her to sign a form or letter to say that they are happy for their name to come off the policy.

You might be a named driver on your ex-partner’s car insurance – or they could be one on yours.

If the policy is in your name, contact your insurer and ask them to remove your ex-partner’s name, if they won’t be driving your car in the future.

Agreeing how to divide the bills

Take meter readings for gas and electricity if you or your ex-partner is moving out so you aren’t charged for energy you haven’t used.

Taking over an account that was in both your names should be straightforward.

You can normally do this online or over the telephone, but you and your ex-partner will be responsible for paying any money you owe up to that point.

If you want to take over a bill in your ex-partner’s name, the old account will have to be closed and a new one set up.

Your next step

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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Some important information about Rest Less Money

We want you to understand the positives, but also the limitations of using our site. We operate in a journalistic manner and therefore all information, guidance or suggestions provided are intended to be general in nature, and you should not rely on any of the information on the site in connection with the making of any financial decision.

When we set out to build Rest Less Money, we wanted to be a trusted place where you could find helpful information about financial matters affecting the over 50s. As a free to use resource, we try hard to provide the best information we can, but we cannot guarantee that we won’t occasionally make mistakes. So please note that you use the information on our site at your own risk, and we can’t accept liability if things go wrong.

Key things to remember when using Rest Less Money:

We do not offer financial advice – As a journalistic site, it’s important to know that we do not provide financial advice. You should always do your own research before choosing any financial product so that you can be certain it is right for you and your specific circumstances. If you are in any doubt, please seek professional financial advice from a regulated financial advisor.

No Liability – please note that you use the information on Rest Less Money at your own risk and we can’t accept liability for how you choose to use the information given on our site. We will often provide links to content or products and services available on other third-party websites. These are provided purely for your convenience and we cannot be held responsible for any content, or any of the products and services offered on any website that we link to.

 

Accuracy of Information – We try to make sure that all the information provided on Rest Less Money is correct at the time of publishing as we want it to be the most helpful resource possible. Sadly, we are not perfect however, and so we can make no guarantees as to the completeness, accuracy, adequacy or suitability of the information available on the site.
Whilst we work hard to try and provide accurate information, deals and prices can change, so whilst they may be correct at the time of writing, providers may subsequently decide to alter them later – so always double check first.

A final note on the Rest Less Community Forums – always remember that anyone can post their opinion on the Rest Less Community Forums, so it can be very different from our own opinion and may not be factual or well researched. Always be wary of any content posted on the forums and be sure to do your own research and due diligence on anything suggested. 

We hope you find Rest Less Money a useful resource and we would welcome your feedback at [email protected] on how to make it even better. For more information on any of the above you can read our full terms and conditions.

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