Wall Street Journal: Naming a guardian for a young child in a will can be one of the most important things a parent does. It can also be one of the hardest—in fact, many people don’t make a will because they can’t face the job.
“This is where I have people cry in meetings most,” says Margaret Sager, a partner at the law firm Heckscher Teillon Terrill & Sager, P.C. in West Conshohocken, Pa.
But estate-planning professionals say as hard as the question is, it’s also crucial to answer it. Otherwise, it leaves the fate of an orphaned child entirely up to a stranger—a judge. Although judges formally appoint guardians in all cases, they almost always choose the person named in the will.
Still, many parents drag their feet for fear of picking the wrong person. Advisers say they often have to help clients get past emotional blocks in order to move forward with their estate plans.
The paralysis that settles in “is not rational,” says Liza Weiman Hanks, a lawyer at Finch Montgomery Wright LLP in Palo Alto, Calif. and author of an estate-planning guide for families.
Ms. Hanks says she herself wasn’t immune—it took her three years to change her will after realizing that the friend she had originally designated to be the guardian of her two minor children was no longer a suitable choice.
So what’s the best way to get parents moving? Some advisers say they start by asking clients to consider the following:
1. It’s just for now.
A guardian isn’t forever, or even for a set period of time. If you decide later that the person you designated isn’t […]