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General Info


Why EFE is Increasing


In 1964 the power of attorney (POA) was created as a cheaper, less embarrassing and less expensive alternative to guardianship. By 1984 the POA was widely used to help older adults mange their affairs if and when they become unable to do it themselves.  Power of attorney documents are frequently used to perpetrate EFE, although there are many other means, such as but not limited to joint bank accounts, quitclaim deeds, inappropriate use of credit and ATM cards.  "Do it Yourself" POA documents are especially risky because they are easily accessible and inexpensive, but lack the opportunity for legal advise and building in safeguards relevant to an older person's particular situation. Because power of attorney lacks oversight, it has been called a "license to steal" (Stiegel, 2008). 

Family members, being the largest group of EFE perpetrators, have on average stolen larger amounts and have used more methods to do it than non-relatives (Utah, 2011, p.11).



Why We Need To Pay Attention NOW


The U.S. population is aging and more older people are living longer. EFE is predicted to escalate as the large baby boomer population becomes vulnerable. Adults 65 and older are expected to be approximately 22% of the population by 2040, up from 14.5% today (US Dept. HHS, 2016).This also means more family members will be involved for longer periods of time with their vulnerable older relatives. This demographic change increases the opportunities for family-perpetrated EFE to occur as well as increases stress and expense for older relatives, family members, and society.

It results in psychological, financial, and relationship consequences for victims and their families as secondary victims, causing family fractures and estrangements, often for generations. This problem also increases the likelihood of earlier death for older relatives.

Costs to society include increased costs to Medicaid, the justice system, community service agencies and organizations, and costs incurred for prevention, education, and research. Businesses unpaid by impoverished older people also suffer consequences from EFE as well as losses because of employees' distraction and absenteeism resulting from the family stress EFE causes.  



Implications for Families


  • Don't assume it won't happen in your family.
  • Understand the immediate and lasting damage EFE can cause.
  • Anticipate and plan for what could happen when the family power structure changes: elders lose capacity, spouses die, other relatives assume power, etc.
  • Understand and consider relatives' values, attitudes and relationships with each other before choosing a power of attorney. 
  • Communicate proactively and openly among family members.  Address issues as needed. 
  • Completely understand the responsibilities and limitations of POA agents, older relatives' wishes, and planning arrangements. 






to be eligible to participate in this study, you simply need to


  • Be 18 years old or older, English-speaking, U.S. residents
  • Have a relative who is 60 years old or older who has a family-member as his/her power of attorney (POA) agent
  • OR be an older person who has a relative as your POA agent
  • OR be a family-member POA agent for a relative 60 years or older
  • Complete the Study Eligibility/Participation Form also linked into the homepage of this research website.

We need family-member participants who have experienced a successful POA implementation period AND those who have experiences alleged or substantiated elder financial exploitation.

Participants can be older adults who appointed a family member as their POA agents, the POA agents, and/or other family members who know about the situation.

The active POA implementation period does not need to be current to be eligible to participate in this study.

The older relative who appointed a family member as her/his POA agent does not have to still be living.





Resources to contact if EFE is suspected:


 Where You Can Get Help: For More Information:
Contact Us

Dr. Virginia Vincenti, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences

Laramie, WY

Phone: 307-766-4079


1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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