Estate planning can be complicated and full of emotion. Add a blended family to the mix, and it's even more so.

"People are living longer and remarrying late in life, creating blended families devoid of deep personal attachment. When these estates combine, family heirlooms, family histories -- entire inheritances -- risk becoming lost to the control of nonfamily members," says Ann Marquez, author of "Journey Into Probate and Back."

Here's how to navigate through the tough stuff.

First order of business: "Change beneficiary designations on insurance policies, retirement accounts and other bank accounts to make sure your former spouse is no longer a beneficiary," says Harold Bollaci, an attorney in Carle Place.

Fair versus equal: Ask, do I want my spouse to inherit all of my assets or a portion of them? For the portion that goes to my spouse, is it his or hers for any reason? Can it be left to his or her children, or do I want it to come back to my children, or should it be split among all the children?

If split among the children, is it 50 percent to my side and 50 percent to my spouse's side, or does each child take an equal share? The questions don't have easy answers.

Be open: "Communicate your intentions to family members during your lifetime," says Benjamin Sullivan, a certified financial planner with Palisades Hudson Financial Group in Scarsdale.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Get help: "Don't rely on boilerplate estate planning documents," Sullivan says. Get a professional with experience in estate planning, better still if they have expertise with families like yours.