Creating an estate plan is important for all adults. When it comes to blended families where there may be children from previous relationships and children from the new relationship, an estate plan becomes critical to avoid accidentally disinheriting family members. A trust is one way to ensure that both a current spouse and children from prior relationships are taken care of. A person can set up their trust so that after their death, their spouse receives distributions throughout their lifetime. Afterward, the children receive assets. With this type of trust, a person might want to hire a professional trustee since the spouse or the children might manage it for their own benefit but not that of the other beneficiaries.
Spouses might agree to sign a prenuptial agreement so that they can keep some of their assets for children or other family members. The prenup would agree that property brought into the marriage remains the property of the original owner, and this allows the property to go to others rather than the spouse if one dies.
Finally, it is important to review beneficiary designations and make sure that they are up to date. For example, an insurance policy might have the name of a former spouse on it. Even if the will differs, beneficiary designations usually override wills.
A person who made an estate plan years earlier might want to review the plan with an attorney because it is likely that their own family and financial situation may have changed since then. From births to divorces and changes in tax law to changes in assets owned, new situations call for updated estate plans. A good practice may be to discuss the plan with loved ones so that they understand why certain decisions were made and to review it regularly.