NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As life expectancy increases, so does the amount of financial planning needed to sustain a comfortable retirement. The latest research reveals that the majority of Americans approaching their senior years are both overconfident in their financial position and under informed about the skills and strategy needed to make their assets last. 

Six in ten people (62%) aged 50+ today provide financial support to family members and 5.8 million children live in grandparents' homes throughout the U.S. But a study conducted by the American College of Financial Services found that only 11% of retirement-age women couldn't pass a basic quiz on how to make their retirement assets last through the rest of their lifetime.

Women are shown to be exposed to more financial risk from the death of a spouse and are also more likely to take on part time work or caring duties at a later age. The Baby Boomer generation could be widows for as long as 15 to 20 years; and within five years of the death, 40% of widows fall into poverty.

Most people surveyed were unsure when was the appropriate time to claim social security and the "4%" rule was a mystery to 70% of those nearing retirement stage. Conflict can arise when saving for both a retirement fund and a college degree, with many Americans failing to invest in a balanced and sustainable way. Anticipating financial shocks such as unexpected property costs or medical bills also needs to be built into the equation.