This article is for those who are in a second marriage and have children from a prior marriage. In these situations, the need to plan ahead is critical.

The first thing to know is that of you do not plan ahead, your children could inherit nothing.

If you want to make sure your spouse inherits, but that the remainder goes off to your children, then you must plan for that.

For instance, let’s say Fred and Susan are happily married.

Fred has two children, Fred Jr. and Stacey, from a prior marriage. Susan has one child, Grace, from a prior marriage.

Fred wants to make sure Susan can live in the house if she survives him, but that when she passes, the house will go to his two children. He needs trusts that will stay in his bloodline and not be subject to equitable distribution if Fred Jr. gets divorced from his spouse.

Susan wants to make sure that if she survives Fred and then wishes to downsize the house, that she can use the remaining funds to help her with daily expenses.

She also wants to make sure that her retirement account will go to benefit Grace, but that the funds will not defeat her eligibility for government benefits due to her having special needs.

All of these planning goals can be achieved, so long as planning is done in advance or else it will not work.

Good estate planning is critical to success in these and other areas. The fees and costs saved, along with the assets protected now and in the future, can provide you and your family with peace of mind.

After serving the public in these matters for more than 15 years, the greatest reward I receive when I help people find their peace of mind.

As always, a little planning can make a big difference.

Mark F. Winn, J.D., Master of Laws (LL.M.) in estate planning, is a local asset protection, estate and elder law planning attorney.