Image: Last will and testament © Tetra Images, Getty Images

Baby boomers: Get ready for a double whammy.

For years now, there's been a lot of talk about boomers getting tremendous windfalls as their parents pass on. Many boomers, in fact, have been lagging behind in their savings, betting on -- hoping for -- big bequests, especially since many of them suffered big losses in 2008.

But for a growing number of boomers, things aren't going according to plan. The postwar generation is living longer -- and many of those older Americans are spending their savings along the way. And, of course, many of them also took a hit in 2008.

The result is that, as a group, boomers likely won't be getting as much of an inheritance as they hoped. Even worse, far from receiving a bequest, a growing number are tapping some of their own savings to help their cash-strapped parents make ends meet.

For families, the result is often a lot of scrambling, dashed dreams, and conflict and angst as parents and children try to come to grips with the lean new reality -- and divide up a smaller pie.

"There are way too many adult children I see who are looking at Mom and Dad's estate as their ticket to a secure retirement," says M. Holly Isdale, an estate planner in Bryn Mawr, Pa. "But with people living longer, much of the money is likely to be spent."

How much longer? Thanks to medical gains, a 65-year-old man has a 60% chance of living to age 80 and a 40% chance of reaching 85. For women, the odds are 71% and 53%, respectively. All of this has made the 85-and-older age bracket the fastest-growing segment of the population. In an era of low interest rates, volatile financial markets and rising costs for health and long-term care, finding money to cover those years isn't always easy.

Consider the case of Nancy Becker, co-owner of a small business in Waterbury, Conn. Her parents, Morris and Dorothy Stein, were diligent savers. "But they didn't imagine living well into their 90s," says Becker, whose father died in 2006 at 92 and whose mother died in 2011 at 97.

Becker and her two brothers inherited a house in Vermont from their father. But they spent about $180,000 of their own money -- an amount that exceeds the value of the Vermont property -- to cover living expenses for their mother in the final three years of her long life.

Becker, now 63, says she certainly doesn't begrudge her parents for outliving their savings. The Steins built a thriving plumbing and heating business that now employs Becker and her husband, among other family members. Still, as Becker's in-laws enter their 90s, she worries that "their money is running out, too."

Financial losses can also put a dent in the older generation's reserves. Donald Hoeller, 86, of Glendale, Wis., says he and his wife, Bernadette, 85, had hoped to bequeath "several hundred thousand dollars" to each of their six children. But an office complex in which the couple invested 60% of their retirement savings recently landed in foreclosure and litigation.

So, Hoeller says, "I don't know if they will get anything."

His daughter, Mary Hoeller, 58, says that while she never counted on an inheritance, "times are tough" -- and she now has the added worry that her parents may run out of money. A divorcee who is paying college-tuition bills for the youngest of her three children and wants to help another child with medical-school tuition, Mary Hoeller says her income has declined substantially since 2008.

"I am very frugal," says Hoeller, a mediator in Indianapolis. But "who wouldn't want an inheritance from their parents? It would be a good thing."

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