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Navigating the Mine Field of the Modern Family

"In terms of dividing an estate, advisers often recommend that a client set up a trust that will support a surviving spouse while he or she is alive and then the money will pass to the children when the spouse dies.

However, this can cause problems if there is a big age gap between the client and new spouse, who may be only a few years older than the children from the first marriage, said David Handler, a Chicago-based attorney with Kirkland & Ellis.

'She might die when she's 90, which means the kids won't inherit anything until they're 80,' said Handler.

In most situations, it is better to separate the inheritances, said Handler. The client can take out a life insurance policy and name his children from his first marriage as beneficiaries. It is best to put the policy in an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust to ensure it is protected from creditors or the children's spouses if they get divorced, said Handler."

This article appeared in its entirety in the June 30, 2010 edition of Reuters News.