Both names on cars, bank accounts, etc? - Talk About Marriage
Financial Problems in Marriage When financial times are tough, it adds to the stress we deal with on a daily basis. This section is for talking about how financial problems affect our relationships and ways to cope.

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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-29-2015, 09:20 PM Thread Starter
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Both names on cars, bank accounts, etc?

Simple question on which my wife and I have completely different opinions. Do most married people combine joint finances and assets for things acquired after being married? And if not- why do you keep them separate? I'm referring to average middle class people with similar finances entering the marriage- not a situation where one party has signifinctly more or where millions of dollars are involved.

If a married couple buys a car- do most title it in both names- or keep it separate with "my car and your car" with each financed and titled separately? Or would they be "our cars" titled jointly? Same principle for bank accounts- for general accounts like regularly used savings and checking- Individual or joint and why?

After being married for a while do most still use references like "mine and yours" or "ours" if one buys a laptop or something like that? Not referring to personal property brought into the marriage that is clearly one person's or the other's- but larger items bought after being a married couple.

One of us feels like having things joint or combined is just normal as to how a marriage is- and the other feels combining bank accounts, car ownership, etc. is a loss of individual identity and that these types of items should be bought separately and owned individually as one or the other's property.

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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-29-2015, 09:36 PM
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Re: Both names on cars, bank accounts, etc?

We had joint bank accounts, credit cards, etc. Cars are in one or the other's name, because we thought only one name could be on the title, but don't consider the cars his or hers. I inherited a car when my father died, and it is in my name, but we still call it my dad's car. When we had one computer we shared it, but now we have several, and call them "the family computer, your computer, etc." We can get on each other's computers, but usually don't because we are more familiar with our own.

Things that my spouse or I owned before marriage still belong to the person who brought it into the marriage, although they share them with the spouse equally. (If we were to divorce, I would not want to ask for things that he owned before we married, or things that he inherited from his family after marrying.)

My parents shared everything, and they remained married until one of them died. My husband's parents are divorced and remarried, and his mother has had multiple marriages, so he is very aware of what belongs to who more than I ever was.
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-29-2015, 09:53 PM
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Re: Both names on cars, bank accounts, etc?

We have both. We each have a separate personal account we are free to use however we wish and we also have a joint account for household expenses and purchasing shared assets. The only really major purchase we have made separately are vehicles and that is because we both have college/young adult kids from previous marriages and we both want to be free to gift the car to the kids when we want. Last year my 22 year old graduated from college and got a job about 7 hours from home. He needed a decent and reliable car. I gave him mine and upgraded. My dh has done similar and this way neither of us felt like we were obligating the other to provide for the others adult (or near adult) kids. OTOH, we bought a boat and paid for it from our shared account. This system had worked well for us.

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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-29-2015, 10:01 PM
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Re: Both names on cars, bank accounts, etc?

Anything brought into a marriage largely remains the property of the one who brought it in; anything inherited by one spouse largely remains theirs; all monies and material wealth accumulated jointly is deemed to be joint income, and in the event of a split would be equally divided among them!

The lone exception would come from a couple signing a prenuptial agreement but even in a community property state, the Court would be bound to follow the precepts of that prenup in a divorce action property split!

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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-29-2015, 10:27 PM
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Re: Both names on cars, bank accounts, etc?

I think it depends on your situation. Like Wringo said, if you have children from a prior marriage, you may want to keep things more separate. My exh and I had everything joint. Now I'm in my 50's, am well established in my career, own my own home... if I were to marry again someday, I would be more on the side of keeping things separate. I also have 2 kids and grandkids..I like Wringo's solution. Both contribute to everyday living expenses, but with the freedom to do things on your own.
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-29-2015, 10:48 PM
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Re: Both names on cars, bank accounts, etc?

Our cars, bank accounts, house, etc. are all in joint name and we refer to them as "ours". As for our computers, she has hers and I have mine, but there's nothing secret about them.

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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-29-2015, 11:12 PM
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Everything joint. I suppose a bill or account here and there have only one name on them but that's but accident or convenience. But we met in college and have 30+ years together so our entire adult life has been "joint".
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-29-2015, 11:52 PM
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Re: Both names on cars, bank accounts, etc?

I've done it both ways.

Completely separate turned into a disaster.

Having joint accounts where all money is deposited to pay bills, then separate accounts in which we both got some spending money worked best.

Car titles in one name or both is not a big issue. Because legally they still belong to both of you no matter whose name is on it. But both names on the titles clearly reflects the reality of joint marital assets.

The most important thing in marriage is that both spouses need to be involved in the finances and know what's what and what's going on.

What reasons does the person who wants things separately give for wanting them separate?
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-30-2015, 12:17 AM
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Re: Both names on cars, bank accounts, etc?

There is no right or wrong with this, as long as it works for the couple. People grow up with different approaches to money, so not everyone is going to see things the same way. What matters is working out a system that feels relatively comfortable to you both.

You can always try it one way and reassess over time if you need to make changes.

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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-30-2015, 09:14 PM
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Re: Both names on cars, bank accounts, etc?

We went probably 15 years with everything separate except for the house. About 10 years ago, we added each other to our separate accounts just in case something happened to one of us and then the other would have access. It really has made no difference in our marriage.

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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-30-2015, 09:26 PM
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Re: Both names on cars, bank accounts, etc?

We had everything separate. I have my checking account, he has his. That was largely due to the fact that we lived together and he was retired military and I wasn't eligible to use the military credit union, and there was one where I worked. We split the bills, so that he paid his and I paid mine, and for the joint ones, I paid them and he reimbursed me half. We each had the same amount of spending money left over. His vehicle was always titled in his name and mine was in mine; he was often handing off his cars to his kids and getting a new(er) one and it was easier to do the bill of sale and change the title that way, since his kids were in another state and it was just easier if he was handing over the car to them. He was the beneficiary/POD on my checking/savings account, and I am still the beneficiary/POD on his. I made my car payment, he made his, but we were both listed as drivers on the auto insurance.

We considered a joint account for household bills, but our system just worked for us.
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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-01-2016, 04:28 AM
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Re: Both names on cars, bank accounts, etc?

I've done it both ways.

Joint turned into a disaster. (just balancing EleGirl out )

Two things that are probably the biggest influence to having separate accounts:

1) Do both of you work, and have similar/significant incomes?
2) Can you both agree on the plan, and be comfortable enough that it never becomes an issue?

As I understand it, you only have teenage step daughters, who should be off to college in a couple years, so I'm assuming your wife works and condition 1 is met. If so, and you don't expect to have babies anytime soon, then separate accounts can be a good way to not crimp each other fiscal decisions. But I also see form your post that you disagree on the plan, so no condition #2.

Here is what I would worry about: Do you know your and your wife's spending styles? Are you two in agreement about how finances should be expect for the separate/joint account thing? .. and then you both walk the walk? If so, a joint account won't be a big deal.

Where it goes wrong is if one you is a spender and the other is not... especially if it involves taking on debt. Then one person can drag down the other.

It sounds like your marriage is new, so if you don't have a good feel about the two of you being on the same page.. proceed with caution.

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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-01-2016, 06:08 AM
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Re: Both names on cars, bank accounts, etc?

In my first M, we combined finances and had a joint bank account. Everything came from our joint account for paying bills. We didn't have a car, mortgage was in both our names. This worked out fine for us both, but there was literally no separation of our money, so when we wanted things, we might have a discussion about it, but between the two of us, my ex H most certainly was more extravagant and I was more frugal. I made less money so I felt at the time like it wasn't my place to speak up about wanting to be more frugal.

Now my SO and I discussed in length what we would do re: finances. We kept our own bank accounts and opened a new account for paying bills/mortgage. My income is less than half, so in regard to the portion I put into the pot, it is based on the percentage I make. I also agreed to pay for the majority of the groceries for the home (because I am the primary cook and enjoy doing the meal planning, etc., so I have a better idea of what we need). He will usually pay for things like meals out (although I insist on paying sometimes and he reluctantly agrees). We've basically split responsibilities on smaller bills based on who has the more responsibility in that area. So far it's worked well for us both.

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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-01-2016, 08:53 AM
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Re: Both names on cars, bank accounts, etc?

We had a property management and investment company incorporated without her name on any of it knowing that if we split it would be dissolved & revert to personal ownership that would be split equitably anyway. As it turns out that's bad plan from a tax perspective so I decided to break up the company into 2 entities with 2 completely separate assets with neither of the other person's name on the other. She gets more or less her equitable half, it's a huge tax savings and neither of us can come back later screaming for more since there's nothing left to 'get'. All liquid or near liquid assets that were personally owned before have for the most part been either divided up or put in various trusts for the children so no subsequent spouses can get their hands on it. To me the that's the most important thing; that wife or husband #2 doesn't take away from the kids.

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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-01-2016, 09:53 AM
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Re: Both names on cars, bank accounts, etc?

Any real asset (cars, I never consider an asset) is in our Trust. That is the title of our house is listed as owned by our Trust. The Trust list a number of other financial assists. This protects real assets from litigation and protects any potential wealth for our sons.

Our cars have both our names on them. A lot of things that does not require paper registration typically just gets assigned mine or yours (e.g., my basses and other music equipment). However, if I die, my wife can do with them as she wish.

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