Two-thirds of pre-retirees expect to carry mortgage debt into retirement, a significant increase from just four years ago, but pre-retirees that work with advisors are in much better shape.

According to two previous surveys conducted by Securian Financial in 2007 and 2009, 30% of pre-retirees expected to carry mortgage debt into retirement.

“Many may have assumed that, when they retired, they’d sell the house for a profit and add it to their retirement savings,” Securian said about the earlier survey results.  By contrast, in 2013, “Boomers don’t have time to wait out the housing recovery until the value of their homes equals or exceeds their mortgage debt.”

By contrasts, boomers who developed retirement income plans generally were more optimistic about their retirement finances. Of the pre-retirees surveyed, 27% said they worked with financial advisors to develop retirement income strategies. Among pre-retirees who worked with advisors, 73% said that did not expect to carry debt into retirement.

Advisors helped retired Boomers, too. In Securian’s 2013 survey, 49% carried debt when they retired, down from 71% in the 2007 survey and 67% in 2009. Even though things have improved, the results still showed that 51% of Boomers owed money (principally from mortgages and credit cards) when they retired. Indeed, 38% of retirees carried total debt of $50,000 or more into retirement.

Again, working with a financial advisor helped. Among the retirees in the survey, 26% said they worked with a financial advisor to develop a retirement income strategy. Of that group, 57% did not carry debt into retirement.

All in all, the latest Securian research paints an unsettling picture of retirement for some Boomers. “For many,” the report concludes, “the size and duration of their debt will consume much of their retirement income. They have a broad range of options, from bankruptcy to postponing retirement. It’s never too late to make a plan, and the survey shows that those who develop retirement income plans fare better than those who don’t.”

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