9

I opened a small business (partnership) a while ago and was a signer on a company account. I later left that company, with the other partner being responsible for whathaveyou, but was apparently never removed as a signer. That account has since accumulated over $100 in inactivity fees, and the bank is holding me personally liable.

Is that even legal? Do I have any recourse here?

EDIT:

I (ironically) also believe this question is off topic. As noted in the answers: the resolution depends on what was signed, where you are, and what records were given to the bank. I'll look to see what agreement was signed by me, but in the end, I'll probably just pay the fee and complain to my old partner.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this relates to legal matters and should be referred to a lawyer or migrated to law.SE at least. – BobbyScon Dec 1 '16 at 16:46
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    What country's laws are you asking about? – Chris W. Rea Dec 1 '16 at 17:02
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    @BobbyScon This isn't specifically off-topic here. See meta.money.stackexchange.com/questions/2124/… – Chris W. Rea Dec 1 '16 at 17:02
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    Also note you may not have to complain to your old partner. Maybe they just forgot and you can remind them. :) – Pysis Dec 2 '16 at 4:03
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    @quid In particular, it's about a corporate bank account, which is definitely not personal finance. – David Richerby Dec 2 '16 at 10:02
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What did you sign when the account was opened? What did you sign when you left the company, to transfer those responsibilities? Unless the bank has a record of someone else being responsible, they are correct in billing the one who signed their paperwork.

Of course this also probably means you still have access to the account, so your ex-partners should be Highly Motivated to help you fix this.

If you want a legal opinion, try over in the Law area, or (better) ask a real lawyer in your jurisdiction. That's out of scope here.

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    No, it doesn't matter who signed the document. It only matters who's the other party to bank is in the contract. (The signer only matters in so much as they need to be in a position to agree to those terms on behalf of the other party). If the agreement was with an incorporated business then the bank could only recover those fees against that corporation, not the person who signed the contract. If the agreement was with a partnership then bank can recover those fees from any member of the partnership, regardless of which partner signed the contract. – Ross Ridge Dec 1 '16 at 22:25
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If I were you, I would go to the bank right now, pay the $100 and close the account. I would stop the bleeding first then consider the fallout later.

Do you own the account jointly with your partner(s) as a partner or does the partnership (a separate formal entity) own the bank account with you a named representative? Those are two very different situations.

If you're a joint owner, you're liable for the fees; along with your other partners in accordance with your partnership agreement. You never closed yourself off the account and that's your problem.

If the dissolved partnership owns the account, you're not personally liable for the fees. You were never a personal owner of the account, now that the account is negative you don't magically become personally liable.

The differences here are very nuanced and the details matter. If this were a large amount of money I'd suggest you go see a lawyer. Since this is about $100 I'd just pay it, make sure the account is closed, and move on.

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    Lawyer fees can range up to $520 an hour (and more) - just go to the bank, pay $100, close account, end liability, learn a valuable lesson and move on. A friend had to pay almost double that to close a NGO they created years after they ceased activities. For a loose end, $100 is cheap. – Mindwin Dec 2 '16 at 12:15
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There are two different liabilities here.

You signed, so the bank can rightfully demand the money from you. Even though it is not your debt. You signed, so you have to pay.

However, it's really the business that is responsible for the account, so you can ask the business to refund the money. You might ask them to pay the bank instead if you haven't paid yet.

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    That's not correct at all. Boeing has people signing checks and listed as account signatories, that doesn't mean a bank can go after the director of accounting for a late fee. Who owns the account matters, who signed the application to open the account is a totally different situation. – quid Dec 1 '16 at 23:06

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