DEAR ABBY: My parents have always assumed that if anything happened to me and my husband, they would be named guardians of our two children, ages 7 and 4 months. We have, however, decided to name our best friends, "Gabrielle" and "Frank."
When we asked them to be guardians, they said they would be honored. Gabby and Frank have two kids, 7 and 11 months. We rarely differ on parenting techniques, and they have always treated our children like their own.
We chose to go outside the family because half our siblings live far away and we don't want the children moved. The siblings who have remained in our hometown all have problems with drugs and/or alcohol. Mother is a wonderful grandmother, but she suffers from frequent migraines and has a touch of emphysema. A weekend with both grandchildren completely exhausts her. Dad loves the kids but has little patience with them. He also drinks too much, and that's not the environment I want my kids raised in.
Because we're going outside the family, we will include strict visitation rights for my parents.
Mom will be very upset when we tell her she won't get custody and will probably stop speaking to me. Would it be OK not to tell her and let her find out if and when the will is read? If not, how can I tell her without destroying our relationship? -- WORRIED UP NORTH
DEAR WORRIED: Assuming that you and your husband are in good health, I see no reason to make any announcements about the contents of your will. Should your mother raise the subject, do not lie to her; explain your reasons in the same way that you have explained them to me, because they are valid.
Because you are concerned about her being hurt if you predecease her and she finds out she was not named guardian, enclose a letter to her with your will, to be read by her in the event of your death. That way, she will understand your reasons for making the decision you did.