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4000 - Advisory Opinions

Bank's Three-Part Recordkeeping System for Deposit Accounts Satisfies Signature Card Requirements for Joint Ownership Accounts Under 12 C.F.R. § 330.7


July 20, 1992

Claude A. Rollin, Counsel

This is in response to your letter, dated July 8, 1992, inquiring about the information which is necessary for a bank to include on a signature card to ensure that an account will be considered a joint account for the purposes of federal deposit insurance.

In your letter you outline the following fact situation:

The bank makes use of the following three part record keeping system with respect to deposit accounts:

(1)  a card which is signed by each depositor but does not indicate in any way how the account is held;

(2)  a terms and conditions document which is incorporated by reference into the signed card and which defines what is meant by a joint account, a payable on death account, and other forms of ownership; and

(3)  a computer record of how the account is held. This record is prepared through information collected by the customer service representative who opens the account, and it is this record only which identified the relative interests of each of the depositors who signed the "signature card."

You ask whether these three records in combination are sufficient to constitute a "signature card" for the purposes of 12 C.F.R. § 330.7, "Joint ownership accounts.''

The regulations do not define "signature card," although banks routinely include information regarding depositors' ownership interest on the signature card itself. In addition, 12 C.F.R. § 330.7(b) seems to suggest that the signature card include such ownership information, although it does not require it. We believe that a signature card which provides evidence of a depositor's ability to withdraw funds is sufficient to satisfy the requirement of § 330.7(c)(2). In my opinion, a signature card for a particular account which merely includes each depositor's signature but does not indicate in any way how the account is held, as is utilized in the first part of the bank's recordkeeping system, meets this standard. Nonetheless, we highly recommend that the bank include information concerning depositors' ownership interests on the card itself, as this will facilitate the FDIC's ascertainment of the depositors' relative ownership interests should the bank ever be placed in receivership. The absence of any indication on the signature card of the manner in which an account is owned may lead to substantial delays in the payment of deposit insurance in the event that the bank fails.

I trust that this has been responsive to your inquiry. Please contact me at (202) 898-3985 if you have any further questions.

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