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As a married couple, you could open investment accounts separately (one or two) or jointly. This is not about IRA or Roth accounts, but for standard investments, in the US.

For this question, ignore all issues coming out of a potential future separation [so assume 'they lived happily everafter']; what reasons speak for the one or the other?

Are there any ways to save taxes by doing it either way (compared to the respective other way?), or anything getting easier/more complex? What is easier if one of them dies, in either case (it's going to happen one day)?

I have reviewed Unmarried couple, should we open a joint investment account or separate accounts?; that is about a Permanently Unmarried Couple. Situation and recommendations might be different for Married Couples - or not?

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  • you should also consider fees - if you need to pay 100$ each year just to have the deposit it will be 200$ if you have two deposits. Or if both of you want to buy the same stock and fees are calculated per order.
    – Swizzler
    Jul 9 '17 at 23:29
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I don't believe it makes a difference at the federal level -- if you file taxes jointly, gains, losses, and dividends appear on the joint tax account. If you file separately, I assume the tax implications only appear on the owner's tax return. Then the benefits might outweigh the costs, but only if you correctly predict market behavior and the behavior of your positions.

For example, lets say you lose 30k in the market in one year, and your spouse makes 30k. If you're filing jointly, the loss washes out the gain, and you have no net taxes on the investment. If you're filing separately, you can claim 3k in loss (the remaining 27k in loss is banked to future tax years), but your spouse pays taxes on 30k in gain.

Where things get more interesting is at the state level. I live in a "community property state," where it doesn't matter whether you have separate accounts or not. If I use "community money" to purchase a stock and make a million bucks, that million bucks is shared by the two of us, whether the account is in my name our in our name. income during the marriage is considered community property. However property you bring into the marriage is not. And inheritances are not community property -- until co-mingled.

Not sure how it works in other states. I grew up in what's called an "equitable property state."

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