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ALEXANDRIA, Va. – NCUA stated in a recent legal opinion letter (04-0257) that federal credit unions may require joint account owners to set up separate membership accounts. However, if the credit union has adopted the October 1999 Federal Credit Union Bylaws, the provision addressing joint membership must be deleted, which NCUA does not have to approve. As an alternative, though, NCUA Associate General Counsel Sheila Albin suggested the institution ask for NCUA approval for a bylaw amendment “as this is a significant condition of membership and, although not required to be in the bylaws, we think it should be.” Under the Bylaws, the letter read, “Owners of a joint account may both be members of the credit union without opening separate accounts.” However, Albin acknowledged, “We understand that FCUs may want to require individual accounts for each member because of data processing constraints or operational issues.” Legal opinion letter 00-0555, Nonstandard Bylaw Amendment, dated June 14, 2000, which discusses deleting this provision, is available on NCUA’s Web site.

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