Almost half of Americans will die broke

According to this USA Today article, many Americans will die flat broke:

Americans aren’t known for being great savers.

In a recent GoBankingRates study, 69% of adults admitted to having less than $1,000 in the bank, while 34% said they actually don’t have any savings at all. But apparently, this collective lack of savings doesn’t get all that much better with age. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found not so long ago that almost half of Americans die nearly broke. Of the general population, 46% of retirees die with savings of $10,000 or less. But that number climbs to 57% among retirees who are single.

Now when we take other assets, like homes, into account, the picture gets a bit less bleak. Still, 57% of single-adult households and 50% of widowed households had no housing equity to show for when they died.

The problem is that dying nearly broke isn’t just a matter of denying one’s beneficiaries an inheritance. Rather, it points to a frightening degree of financial vulnerability during retirement. If seniors are passing without much in the way of assets, it means that in the years leading up to their death, they’re ill equipped to handle a major unexpected expense, such as a significant medical bill. In fact, in that same GoBankingRates survey, only 37% of seniors 65 and older claimed to have $1,000 or more in the bank.

Having an emergency fund, however, is just as crucial for retirees as it is for younger folks. And the sooner more people realize that, the less financial insecurity they’ll take to the grave.


I think the main point of this article is that people don’t save enough and probably spend too much. If a person spends their money down and lives a decent quality of life til they die, dying “flat broke” doesn’t sound that bad. However, if a person is in debt while alive and has problems paying their monthly bills, that can affect their quality of life.

Why does someone need to die with a great deal of money? Is it so lawyers and the government can get more access to their funds? It is nice for people to leave money to heirs but is hardly mandatory.



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