We encourage you to consider changing your account from an individual account to a joint account. You are not required to make this change, but there are some advantages to consider. At this time, a joint membership is only available to married couples.
The primary benefit of a Joint Membership involves how the account’s accumulated patronage capital shall be handled in the event of the death of one of the account holders.
Each member of Midwest Electric earns “patronage capital” based on the amount of electricity used and based upon Midwest’s profit in that year. That patronage is determined annually and accumulated in your patronage account. Typically, each year a portion of that accumulated patronage capital is paid back to Members in the form of a bill credit or a refund check.
However, when a member dies having an individual account, the balance in that accumulated patronage capital account belongs to the heirs of the deceased Member. There are legal requirements to release the earned patronage, which can prolong that process.
If you switch to a Joint Membership while still married, then upon the death of the account holder we continue to hold that account in the name of the surviving Member and upon proof of death, we will simply remove the deceased member’s name. The surviving member will then continue to accumulate and receive the patronage capital.
Advantages of a Joint Membership:
- In the event of a death, a Joint Membership, and therefore the accrued patronage capital account, will remain in the name of the surviving member and upon presentation of the deceased member’s death certificate, no further paperwork is required. Many married couples hold their assets jointly and appreciate this “survivorship” feature.
- Either Member will be able to contact Midwest and inquire about billing issues, outages, or request information or services related to that account.
- Either one of the Members is entitled to vote on matters submitted to the Membership for consideration, such as the Board of Directors elections.
- If otherwise qualified, each of the Members (but not both at the same time) is entitled to run for election to the Board of Directors.
- A good payment history for the account may be beneficial to each of the members’ credit scores or reports.
- The accrued capital credits, an asset of the account owner, are owned by each of the two Members. In the event of a divorce, each spouse would have a claim to it.
Disadvantages of a Joint Membership
- In the event of a death, the surviving member cannot elect to receive the accumulated patronage capital early in a discounted lump sum, but must continue to receive it over time.
- Each of the Members of the joint account are liable for the unpaid balance due for electric services billed to that account.
Changing your electric account to a Joint Membership is easy and involves a brief, one-page form. This form must be notarized. Please contact our office (Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 1-800-962-3830) if you have any questions or would like a copy of that form.
You can also download the form by clicking here.