Is it possible to have printed on personal checks "Not valid for an amount over $500" or something similar to reduce the risk of fraud my elderly father might be exposed to in his encroaching dementia?

Taking away his checkbook would be inconvenient as well as be a big psychological blow to him. At 85, he is starting to write big checks, giving his money away, and could be the victim of an unscrupulous salesperson.

What other solutions might exist?


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    The answers to this are likely to be highly location-specific. Where is your elderly father located? (Country, state/province/...) Please edit the question to indicate the location involved. – a CVn Jan 15 '16 at 10:26
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    99% chance USA due to the spelling of "check" :-) – Kate Gregory Jan 15 '16 at 16:35

While it is possible to have pre-printed checks with a limit on them, I'd be worried about two things:

  1. That limit somehow getting ignored by the banks and the resulting hassle on your part.

  2. Anyone unscrupulous could try to talk dad into simply writing more than one check.

Dad should give you power of attorney and let you dole out a monthly allowance into his account. Yeah, it's a tough conversation, just like the one about not driving anymore.


Your best bet is probably to limit the amount of money in the account. If there is never more in there than he would normally spend in a month, that limits the losses.

I am curious why he writes cheques. Most people I know write only a few a year. Simply having another person hold the chequebook for him, and bring it to him when it's needed, wouldn't be a big deal for the people I know. Say he pays bills twice a month and needs it then, fine, but why does he need it when he's just going for a walk? But if this would be an argument then just move most of the money into an account he can't write cheques against, and put each month's expenses into the chequing account each month.

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    Your answer is great to the question as asked, but there's a larger issue. The OP needs to sit with his family and have the big money talk. He's "giving his money away" - to whom? Charities? Relatives he feels are in need? If he is of sound mind, it's all his choice, if not, he should have no control, just pocket money. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Jan 15 '16 at 13:36
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    Unfortunately there is a zone where they can do as they like, including making foolish purchases and trusting bad people. It is their money and they can waste it if they want to. Perhaps they are even getting joy from the silly purchases. This is something real in my life so I do know that it's difficult. Competence is not a checkbox, it's a spectrum, and one of the things you lose as you lose competence is the ability to recognize that you've lost competence. – Kate Gregory Jan 15 '16 at 13:43
  • Ditto, I am blessed with a mother in law I actually love, and five years ago, she gave up her car, she knew she needed to quit driving. About a year ago, she handed her checkbook over to my sister in law. For her, it was all or none. I don't judge people's charity choices, but the $25 checks to every charity was causing her checkbook to need constant attention to avoid bounced checks. I'll concede, every situation is different. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Jan 15 '16 at 14:01
  • Please sit down with dad and have the talk. I have a friend whose elderly parent went down this path and started giving money to all of the scammers who seemed to be such nice people temporarily down on their luck. My friend figured out what was happening and got legal control of the parent's finances. – shoover Jan 15 '16 at 23:56
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    It seems like this compounds the losses rather than limiting. Now instead of "just" giving away his money, he'll also be overdrawing his account and racking up finance fees. – user32479 Jan 16 '16 at 15:21

I would recommend pre-paid debit cards. Every quarter a fixed amount of money is loaded onto the card (or a new card is issued). This prevents any large-scale fraud from occurring.

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