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by Abigail Van Buren

Naming Guardians for Minor Children Brings Up Sensitive Question

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I are in our mid-40s with two kids (9 and 6). We are in the early stages of our estate planning, and of course the topic of who would look after our kids has been discussed.

Our first choice has lovingly agreed to have our kids join their family if my wife and I should die. However, many estate planning forms ask if there is a secondary option on who we want to be our children's guardians in case our primary choice can no longer fulfill that role. How do we tactfully ask our second choice if they are willing to be the backup? I worry that the couple may be offended that they aren't No. 1, and this may cause tension and seriously damage our relationship with them. -- PARENTS IN A PREDICAMENT

DEAR PARENTS: Do not offer apologies or explanations unless you must. Simply ask the backups if they would be willing to step in "should the need arise." If you are pressed about why they are not your first choice, answer honestly. Your reasons should be respected. This is not a popularity contest; it is a serious consideration for the future of your children.

Read more in: Family & Parenting