One in 8 Older Americans Die Penniless 10% of single Americans die in debt: study By Arden Dier, Newser Staff Posted Apr 30, 2015 12:08 PM CDT 68 comments Comments Can anyone spare a penny? (Shutterstock) (Newser) – Need a push to start saving? You've got it, courtesy of the Employee Benefits Research Institute. A review of retirement surveys from 2010 to 2012 finds one in eight people who died at 85 or older were dead broke, with no assets to their name, reports NBC News. One in five had only a house as an asset, with average home equity of $140,000. Single? The news gets worse. One in six who died at 85 or older without a spouse were penniless. Some 10% were actually in debt, while 25% had $83,000 on average in home equity. But not all have the benefit of living to old age. About 30% of households that lost a family member between 50 and 64 left no financial assets and earned less income than older retirees. "A lot of folks really don't have much of a financial cushion by the time they get to the end," says an economist, who previously found 46% of Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets. His findings suggest those who live longer die richer, perhaps because they didn't battle expensive, life-long health issues and therefore had money to spend on better health care. A shred of good news: Retirement account balances have hit record highs, according to an analysis from Fidelity Investments, per Time. The company says the average individual retirement account balance hit a record high of $94,100 in Q1 and the average Fidelity 401(k) balance is up 3.6% from 2014, though other reports are more discouraging.