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Is your Estate Plan strong enough to survive a Toad Attack?

It is said that the path to destruction is paved by good intentions. Sometimes, what appears to be the right thing to do can have unintended consequences due to unforeseen circumstances. In the early 1930's, the Australian Sugar Cane industry had a problem, the crops were dying in the field before they could be harvested. The culprit was a hardy variety of beetle that proved near-impossible to kill with the pesticides of the time without causing tremendous environmental damage. In an effort to find a less toxic and more natural solution, a new species was introduced that would feed on the beetles, namely, the Cane Toad. Now, the thing about the Cane Toad is they don't just eat beetles, they eat anything they can, which it turns out includes many vulnerable native species. Furthermore, Cane Toads are poisonous and cannot be eaten by most animals. Today there are over 200 million Cane Toads in Australia, and perhaps most insultingly, the Sugar Cane Beetle population remains virtually untouched.

No matter how noble our goals, it is important to remember our imperfections and embrace humility when considering how much we know about what the future will bring. When you are crafting an Estate Plan, it is important to make sure that the plan has the requisite flexibility and adaptability to meet the challenges that you or your loved ones might face in the future. A good Estate Plan is strong enough to hold steady, but flexible enough to accommodate the unexpected changes that life always brings.

One good reason to review an Estate Plan is when someone who might inherit from you becomes disabled or is otherwise in need of a Means-Tested government benefit. If a person is on an income-limited benefit, a surprise inheritance could actually disqualify them from receiving that benefit. Just like that, a gift becomes a curse, and the best intentions of the blessing are thwarted. However, this poor result can be avoided through diligence and understanding. Other events that should trigger an automatic Estate Plan review include:

  • Death or Incapacity

  • Divorce

  • Marriage

  • Adoption

  • Relocation

  • Birth of a new baby

  • Change in financial circumstances

  • Major Accidents, Injuries, or Illnesses

If you or your loved ones have experienced significant life changes since the last time you had your Estate Plan done, consider a "Checkup" with an Estate Planning Attorney to make sure you are taking advantage of the most recent updates to the law.

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