Leading Cause of Estate Planning Paralysis is Choosing Guardian


Arden Dale of The Wall Street Journal provides suggestions for overcoming the paralysis arising from the anxiety of choosing a guardian for minor children:

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.

. . . .

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 the best choice after all, you can always make a switch. It isn’t hard or expensive to do—the changes can be outlined in a codicil to the will.

It may help to think in terms of the next three years, advisers say. While Grandma and Grandpa may be just the ticket when the kids are four and five, they may not be the best guardians for kids heading into their teenage years.

. . . .

3. Nobody’s perfect.

Husbands and wives often disagree on who’s best-suited to care for their children, so accept the probability that you may have to compromise.

In those situations, Ms. Hanks suggests that each parent go to opposite sides of the room and write down their top five choices. Then they should compare lists and try to find common ground.

Read the rest of the article at the Wall Street Journal.

I encourage, at least in California, the use of a separate document called Nomination of Guardians, which can be easily changed without rewriting the will. Underscoring the termporary nature of the decision also helps get over paralysis.

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