A comprehensive estate plan typically incorporates a wide variety of tools, documents, and strategies into the plan in order to accomplish the numerous goals you likely have. If you are part of a blended family, estate planning is usually even more complicated. Thankfully, there are a number of estate planning tools that work extremely well in a blended family estate plan.
One of the common issues that comes with a blended family is how to handle the family home. If you are re-married and have children from a previous marriage, you probably want to provide a home for your spouse in the event of your death yet preserve the home and/or the value of the home for your children. While you can leave the home to your new spouse with the agreement that he or she will then leave it to your children upon death, you spouse is under no legal obligation to honor that agreement.
A life estate can solve the problem. A life estate is an agreement that allows your spouse to remain in the home for life but without actually having any ownership rights in the property. When the life tenant (your spouse) dies, the property then automatically reverts to the remaindermen (your children). This way your spouse can remain in the home if you die but your children (or whomever else you designate) will eventually be given the title to the property.
If you think a life estate may be a beneficial addition to your estate plan be sure to sit down with your estate planning attorney to discuss the option.