(Dow Jones) Many parents are saving more of their estate for their own expenses, and shrinking the amount they plan to leave for heirs. But children's expectations of a big inheritance haven't diminished, and advisors are often caught in the middle.

They're warning older clients that it's more important to have adequate resources, and emphasizing to heirs that they'll need other sources to fund their own retirements.

"What we're saying is, 'Don't worry about the kids,'" says Todd C. Ganos, an investment advisor in Carmel, Calif. "You need to make sure you're OK."

Many working-age people, with their own savings shrunk after the financial crisis, may be hoping that an inheritance will save their retirement plans. "People secretly think we'll probably get $1 million or something," says Debra L. Morrison, a financial advisor in Lincoln Park, N.J.

"That's wishful thinking," she says. "An inheritance is the last bastion of hope. People are starting to see their financial blocks crumble from under their feet."

As it battered portfolios, the crisis rocked the confidence of many older investors who have in turn reduced their holdings in stocks-and thus their opportunity for asset growth. Facing rising costs in health care and others areas, they will need more of their own money to meet expenses.

Still, many feel an obligation to pass on an inheritance-and advisors are urging them to feel otherwise. "There's a generational expectation that parents sometimes succumb to," says Morrison. "It does give some parents a huge feeling of accomplishment if they could leave something."

She encourages clients who feel guilty about keeping their own savings to "make me the bad guy," even if that means the children won't use her as their advisor later on.

For those parents who have money to spare, and who have children who could use it, she advises them to pass it on now if that makes financial sense. "I love to have my clients get pleasure out of their gift-giving," she says.

Expectations about gifting can get out of hand, too, however. Morrison recalls one instance where a client in her early 70s was being pressured by a son, who had his own high salary, to shell out for his children's private school.

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