I’ve seen couples have a variety of account configurations that worked for them. There is no perfect set up or any one solution that always works best.
Communication about your finances is more important than any one account type. This is a fundamental and big picture conversation that extends far beyond yes or no on the joint account. It should include your goals in life, how you will save for retirement, how you would want assets distributed if something were to happened to one of both of you, as well as near term goals, sharing income figures as well as net worth. Getting financially “naked” so to speak.
A joint account might be a helpful tool to spark this conversation and help you merge your financial lives.
One strategy I’ve seen that can work quite well is having a joint account where “shared” expenses are paid. Each partner also has a separate account where they can pay for their personal expenditures. The couple agrees on the amount of money that is put into each account from each paycheck and that way there is some autonomy in spending as well as a pool of money to pay for joint expenses.
In a case like this the couple has a joint checking account, as well as separate checking accounts, a joint brokerage account and separate retirement accounts. Be sure that mutual savings goals are met before money is put into the separate accounts for expenditures.
There are additional factors to consider. For example, you want to be sure there is enough money in the joint account just incase your spouse made an unexpected withdrawal. Or, you might want the convenience of one signature to complete the transaction vs. both partners needing to sign. However, this could be a problem if the relationship goes south because either person could withdraw funds regardless of who deposited them.
If you live in a community property state earned assets are shared regardless of the account they are in. If you have a prenuptial agreement you want to be mindful of the assets you are commingling. In that case, perhaps limited funds go to a joint account.
Remember that communication is key. Be open and detailed when merging your finances and this will help you decide if a joint account is right for the both of you.