(Dow Jones) Financial advisors should take a look at clients' liquidity and borrowing power, now that the financial crisis has investors more wary, a Merrill Lynch study found.

Even though more than one-third of affluent Americans have seen their finances take a hit from unexpected life events, still 70% don't think their retirement plan takes into account the potential for such emergencies, according to Merrill Lynch's Affluent Insights Quarterly study.

The study, which surveyed 1,000 individuals with at least $250,000 in investable assets, showed investors are most worried about a serious illness. Second to that, they fear another downturn, and that was followed by job loss and divorce.

Lyle LaMothe, head of U.S. Wealth Management for Merrill Lynch, said life's unexpected events continue to be a bigger issue for investors as the economic and market recovery continues to be slow.

"People are finding themselves supporting their elderly parents, adult children, and even grandchildren now too, and they didn't think they would have to," LaMothe told Dow Jones.

According to the study, 36% of affluent Americans are juggling at least an elderly relative, adult child, grandchild, or stepchild in addition to supporting themselves.

The study also brought to light some of the differences regarding finances that exist among family members. About half of couples disagree on their finances, according to the study.

Dean Athanasia, head of Global Wealth and Investment Management Banking and the Merrill Edge online brokerage, said financial advisors can step in for the couples to bounce ideas off of them and come to compromise.

LaMothe added that, "Naturally, it's easier to be in agreement when everything's headed north. It's when things are bad that the differences start to come up."

Risk tolerance can be a factor too. But the study shows that it doesn't differ as much among investor age as advisors might think.

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