At a time when more Americans than ever are petrified they won't have enough set aside for retirement, a new LIMRA survey suggests that peace of mind could be just a phone call away.

The research and consulting firm for the insurance and financial services industry reports this week that while almost two-thirds of all pre-retiree households -- defined as those with members between 55 and 70 years of age -- are not currently working with a financial advisor, more than half (54%) of those who are say they feel they'll be able to afford the retirement lifestyle they desire when the time comes.

Moreover, more than three-times as many pre-retiree respondents who have yet to hire a money pro now admit they feel unprepared for retirement, compared to those who have enlisted the services of a financial advisor.

"With so much uncertainty in the economy and in the social programs supporting retired Americans, pre-retirees face many challenges when preparing for retirement," Marie Rice, director of LIMRA Retirement Research, said in the report. "Our research is clear. Those who use professional financial advisors enjoy the peace of mind that they are making the appropriate decisions to ensure they have a financially secure retirement."

When asked whether they felt confident that they will be able to live the retirement lifestyle they choose, 63% of pre-retirees not working with an advisor said they most likely would not.

Lack of proper planning and saving has become something of a national epidemic, particularly among the massive pool of baby boomers who are either at or nearing traditional retirement age.

In April, a poll conducted by the Associated Press and the lifestyle website found that 44% of Americans between 45 and 65 years of age aren't confident they'll have the resources and investments they need to enjoy a relatively comfortable retirement.

Of this group, 57% said one of the main reasons they're panicking is that they lost a significant portion of their retirement assets or net worth during the economic tsunami that pummeled so many investors' portfolios in the middle and latter part of the last decade.

LIMRA's research estimates that less than half of pre-retirees have adequately saved for their retirements, and 55% of respondents have less than $100,000 in total household assets. Less than half have come to terms with the implications -- and likelihood -- that they will outlive their nest eggs.

"Retirement planning involves many complicated decisions that should not be done without the knowledge and expertise that a professional financial advisor can provide," Rice added. "Pre-retirees who use this help to make these critical decisions are more confident that they made the right choices.”

Larry Barrett writes for Financial Planning, a SourceMedia publication.

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