Treat any future inheritance as a hoped-for bonus and not a certain windfall.

Life is full of surprises that can put your goals at risk. Here are some examples of unexpected situations—and some key takeaways for all investors.

Expecting an inheritance

Richard and Sylvie are in their late 50s. Anticipating a sizable inheritance from Richard’s widowed father, they lead a luxurious lifestyle and save little.

But then Richard’s father remarries and revises his will, leaving most of his estate to his new wife. When Richard and Sylvie retire, they’re forced to modify their lifestyle significantly.

Takeaway #1: Treat any future inheritance as a hoped-for bonus and not a certain windfall.

Takeaway #2: Live within your means and invest with a view to reaching your goals.

Education savings

Jian and Kim have contributed to a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) since their two children were just a few years old. But when their daughter goes into medicine and their son studies in the United States, the RESP is soon depleted. To cover the higher costs, they dip into their retirement savings.

Takeaway #1: When saving for postsecondary education, consider maximum education expenses at the outset.

Takeaway#2: You can bolster RESPs with a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) designated for university costs.

Health issues

Angelo has two key retirement goals – to have a comfortable lifestyle and give his three grandchildren funds for down payments on their first homes. But he suffers a major stroke in his mid-60s. Years of expensive long-term care erode the funds he hoped to give his grandchildren.

Takeaway #1: Never take good health for granted.

Takeaway #2: Consider purchasing long-term care insurance when you are young or setting aside funds for health-care costs in your later years.

A proper financial plan can help you and your family deal with the unexpected. Talk to an advisor if you don’t have one yet or if it’s time to review your current plan.