End-of-Life Harsh Reality -- Older Americans Die Broke and Destitute

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- While people checkup on their 401(k) to make sure they're adequately planning for their golden years, most don't worry about dying with no money.

However, according to a new study by the non-profit Employee Benefit Research Institute, more than one in five Americans who died at age 85 or older had no assets beyond their home, and more than 12% of that cohort had no assets at all. It was even worse for singles who died at or above age 85, with nearly a quarter having no assets other than their home and 16.7% having no assets. The average net equity left in the homes of those who died at ages 85 or above was $141,147 for couples and $83,471 for singles.

While it’s no secret Americans are bad at saving for their retirement, the numbers paint a particularly bleak picture for those in their last few years. However, experts say there are thing people should keep in mind, especially as they get well on into their later years, to avoid dying destitute.

Commie Stevens, managing director of strategic and financial planning for Beacon Pointe Advisors in Newport Beach, Calif., said as people age, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask those they care for to check certain expenses and financial details.

“Your mental abilities may change over time without you even being aware of it, so it's wise to have an open discussion with loved ones now,” Stevens said. “It's important to let them know where you keep your records, what you owe and own and wise to ask them to occasionally check to see if you're staying current on bills and that no one is draining your resources.”

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