Category Archives: probate

Estate Planning in History: Boston’s “Lotta Fountain”

Lotta_Fountain_-_IMG_3787Looking to do some local sightseeing this summer that combines your love of Boston history and charitable trust administration?  Look no further!  Visit the (recently renovated) Lotta Fountain, a drinking and play fountain for dogs, located on Boston’s Charles River Esplanade.

The Lotta Fountain was a charitable gift from a Trust established under the Will of Lotta Crabtree.  Lotta Crabtree was a very successful 19th century vaudeville star.  At the height of her career she was the highest paid actress in the U.S. and became one of the wealthiest entertainers of her day.  At the time of her death in Boston in 1924, she had amassed an estate of over $4 million (worth over $50 million today).  She never married or had children.  In her Will, she established and funded eight charitable trusts for various purposes, including animal welfare.  One of those charitable trusts was used to establish a $300,000 fund to benefit animals.  That fund led to the design and building of the Lotta Fountain in 1939.

The Fountain later fell into significant disrepair in large part because the Trustees mismanaged the trust and charged excessive fees which depleted the fund’s assets.  In 2004, a Massachusetts court held that the Trustees breached their fiduciary duties.  They were removed and reprimanded, and a surcharge for the excessive fees was imposed.

The Esplanade Association and Boston’s Department of Conservation and Recreation raised money to repair and renovate the Fountain.  It opened June 15.  It will now fulfill Crabtree’s charitable intention by serving as a drinking and play space for Boston’s four legged residents.  If you wish to visit, the fountain is located on the Esplanade between Berkeley and Clarendon Streets, near the Arthur Fiedler Bridge.  I have not yet been there, but I think it is worth a visit this summer.

Image of fountain from wikipedia commons.

Estate Planning in Pop Culture – HBO’s Wizard of Lies

MadoffI recently watched “Wizard of Lies”, the HBO movie about Bernie Madoff.  The movie is based on the book of the same title by Diana Henriques.  Unlike the book, the movie focuses on the Madoff family, not on Bernie’s crime.  It’s about Bernie, Ruth, Mark and Andrew Madoff, their relationships, and the impact of Bernie’s betrayal on those relationships.  To be honest, I found the movie a bit slow, uninformative, and disappointing.  It’s nonetheless worth watching (if only because Robert De Niro’s Bernie is fantastic).

There are obvious lessons for all to learn from the Madoff story.  Know where and how your money is invested.  Don’t trust a financial advisor simply because of his reputation or charisma.  Investments with impressive returns may be too good to be true.

There was one scene in the movie I found particularly interesting because it offers an additional, less obvious, lesson about estate and family business succession planning.  The scene starts 41 minutes in.  It takes place in July 2008.  The market is crashing and time is running out for Bernie and his ponzi scheme.  The Madoffs throw a large party on the lawn at their Montauk beach house.  At the end of the party, after the guests have left, sons Mark and Andrew approach Bernie to talk.  They know nothing of his ponzi scheme at this point.  They are concerned about Bernie’s estate and business succession plan, of which they’ve been told nothing.  Their basic question for Bernie – “What if something happens to you?”  We sense that they’ve asked this before.

The conversation does not go well.  Bernie gets immediately angry.  He assures them that Frank DiPascali, Bernie’s “assistant” and accomplice, will take care of everything.  He says there are instructions in his safe deposit box.  He advises them to call his attorneys.  Bernie offers no answers or plans.  Ruth plays no role in the conversation.  Mark and Andrew walk away disappointed and angry.  A lot about this conversation went wrong.

Although the circumstances for the Madoffs are highly unusual, what went wrong in this scene offers a universal lesson for all.  It’s not only important to have a good estate plan in place, but to be honest and forthcoming with your spouse and adult children about the plan.  This is especially true for those who own a family business. Discussions about estate planning should happen in most families, but often never do.  And while the conversation may be wrought with issues and emotions, they should not derail it.  In addition to preparing estate plan documents, a good estate planning attorney can act as an advisor or informal mediator to help to facilitate these discussions within a family.  By relying on an estate planning attorney in this way, you may be able to avoid bigger estate problems, including litigation, later.

Image of Robert De Niro as Madoff from vimeo.

Gifts to 529 Plans – Have Your Cake and Eat it Too

food-1281766_960_720Lifetime gifting to children and grandchildren is an important estate planning tool that can result in substantial estate tax savings.  For that reason, we often recommend it to wealthy clients.  Typically, for gifted assets to be excluded from a donor’s estate at death and not subject to estate taxes, the gift must be complete and irrevocable.  That means that once a gift is made the donor cannot access or control the gifted assets.  Even clients with substantial assets may be reluctant to make gifts because of this loss of access and control.

But there is one type of gift that allows donors to make lifetime gifts that will be excluded from their estates without losing access or control – gifts to Section 529 plans.  529 plans are tax-advantaged investment accounts in which a donor sets aside money to fund a child or grandchild’s college education.  Contributions to a 529 plan of which the donor is the owner (sometimes called the “participant”) are not included in the donor’s estate and will not be subject to estate taxes.  Yet, importantly, the donor, as the account owner, retains control over the assets.  In addition, the donor can reacquire the assets in the future (provided he pay income taxes and a penalty).  Because the donor retains access and control, gifts to 529s allow the donor to “have his cake and eat it too.”

There are some disadvantages to consider.  Distributions from 529 plans must be used on qualified higher education expenses and if not, are subject to penalty.  Assets in a 529 account may impact the student’s eligibility for financial aid.  For more on that, see my prior post.  Also, there is one exception to the estate exclusionary rule.  A donor may frontload a 529 account with five times the annual gift tax exclusion amount (currently $14,000), for total gifts of $70,000 per donor, but if he dies within five years following the contribution, a portion of the gift will be included in his estate and subject to estate tax.

For clients interested in reducing estate taxes but reluctant to lose access to and control of assets, lifetime gifts to 529 plans may be an appealing way of making lifetime gifts.  In addition, for emotional reasons, the opportunity to fund a grandchild’s college education may be especially meaningful.   529 accounts are also easy and inexpensive to set up and administer, and for those reasons can be a great way to make gifts.

Image from pixabay.

Are Electronic Wills the Wave of the Future?

8973427921_42b22809be_bFor a Will to be valid and self-proved in Massachusetts, it must be in writing, signed by the testator, signed by two (2) witnesses, and signed and stamped by a Notary Public.  This means that you, two (2) witnesses, and a Notary Public must sign your Will with a pen… in handwriting… on paper.  Electronic Wills or electronically signed Wills are simply not valid.

In addition, if you die as a resident of Massachusetts, your original Will in paper form will be filed by mail or hand delivery in Probate Court, if a Personal Representative of your estate is to be appointed.  (If the original is unavailable, a paper copy may be filed, but the probate process becomes more difficult and lengthy.)   This means that your original Will in paper form must be kept safely on file either in your attorney’s office or elsewhere.  It is also important to have only one original paper Will.

In a world in which much of our lives are electronic, I’ve asked myself on many occasions – is it time to dispense with these formalities?  Aren’t they out of date?  We pay our bills electronically, send checks electronically, manage our finances electronically, and prepare and file tax returns electronically.  Why not sign and store electronic Wills?

Not surprisingly, others have asked the same question.  The State of Nevada passed a statute allowing electronic Wills way back in 2001.  So far other state legislatures have not following suit.  In 2013, an Ohio Court ruled that a Will written and signed on a computer tablet was valid under Ohio’s probate code.  There are currently two bills under debate in Florida that would legalize electronic Wills.  In addition, the Uniform Law Commission has formed a Drafting Committee on Electronic Wills to draft model legislation for states.  Legislative efforts to pass laws allowing electronic wills have been supported by lobbyists from online estate plan document providers (like and Legal Zoom) whose business no doubt suffers from state laws that require Wills to be in writing.

Massachusetts has always been slow to adopt changes to its probate law, and for that reason I suspect electronic Wills are not in our near future.   The time will come, but for now, be sure your Massachusetts Will is in writing, properly executed, and stored safely in its original form.

Image from flickr by Judit Klein


Estate Planning in History: The 125 year dispute over the Will of James K. Polk

Presidents_James_K_PolkBelieve it or not, Tennessee lawmakers are debating a bill that calls for exhuming the body of President James K. Polk, currently buried on the grounds of the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, and moving it to a new “final” resting place fifty miles away in Columbia, Tennessee, Polk’s hometown. The bill arose from requests by the Polk Tomb Relocation Committee of the Columbia City Council and the Polk Home and Museum. The debate has reopened a 125 year old dispute over one provision of Polk’s Last Will and Testament.

In case you’ve forgotten your 5th grade history, here is a bit of background. James K. Polk was the 11th President of the United States. He served one term from 1845 to 1849. Though mostly unremembered, Polk did some significant things during his presidency. He led the U.S. through the Mexican-American War that resulted in the addition of the American Southwest. He coaxed the British into selling us the Oregon Territory. And he oversaw the establishment of the U.S. Naval Academy and the Smithsonian. Polk died shortly after he left office. His wife, Sarah, died in 1891. And that is when the story gets interesting….

A few months before his death, Polk, a former lawyer, prepared and signed his own Last Will and Testament. In that Will, Polk included an important provision that did two things. First, it stated Polk’s desire that Sarah and he be buried on the grounds of their home, Polk Place, in Columbia, Tennessee. Second, it devised Polk Place to the State of Tennessee to be held in Trust to be continually occupied by his blood relatives as designated by the State forevermore. He named the “public authorities” of the State as Trustee.

Polk was buried on the grounds of Polk Place and remained there during his surviving wife’s lifetime, while she resided in the home. However, after her death in 1891, a probate dispute arose among Polk’s heirs. The dispute was settled by a Tennessee probate court. The court ordered that the provision in the Will regarding Polk’s burial and the bequest and Trust for Polk Place was invalid because it required that Polk Place be held in trust in perpetuity (i.e., forever) in violation of Tennessee law. Even today, most states have a “Rule Against Perpetuities”, which prohibits trusts from being held in perpetuity. As a result, in 1893, a court ordered that Polk Place be sold and Polk’s body be moved to the Tennessee State Capitol where it has remained… until now.

The Columbia City Council, the Polk Home and Museum, and some Polk history enthusiasts now seek to move the body back to Columbia. Among their reasons is that internment in Columbia, near what used to be Polk Place, will better serve the wishes Polk expressed in his Will.

It remains to be seen what will happen. The bill still needs to be approved by the Tennessee House of Representatives and the Tennessee Historical Commission.

The moral of the story is this. Estate Planning is not a do-it-yourself job, even for trained lawyers and former Presidents. If you want to avoid years (or decades or centuries) of probate litigation and hassles, use a qualified and knowledgeable estate planning attorney. (And if you find yourself in Nashville this Spring or Summer, visit the Polk burial site. It may be your last chance.)

Matthew Brady image of Polk from Wikipedia Commons.

Cy Pres vs. Equitable Deviation: Explanations and Examples

HarryHoudini1899 (1)There are two related legal doctrines in Massachusetts that allow a court to modify the terms of a charitable gift – the doctrine of Cy Pres (see pray) and the doctrine of Equitable Deviation.  In general, these doctrines apply when the continued administration of a charitable trust has become impossible, illegal or impaired as a result of the passage of time and/or changes in circumstance.  While the two doctrines are certainly close cousins, they are not identical.

Doctrine of Cy Pres –  A court may amend a charitable trust if it has become impossible or impracticable to give effect to the trust as it was written.  For the doctrine of cy pres to apply, the court must find that the donor had a general charitable intention and/or public charitable purpose.  In applying the doctrine, the court must amend the trust in a manner that most closely promotes the donor’s original intention.  For cy pres to apply, the trust instrument must not contain a gift-over (i.e., an alternate direction for the gift in the event the trust failed).

For example, in Jackson v. Phillips, a Massachusetts court applied cy pres to amend a charitable trust established by Francis Jackson, a Boston slavery abolitionist.  Jackson’s trust was intended to support the creation of “a public sentiment that will put an end to negro slavery in this country.”  After slavery was abolished, that purpose was no longer relevant.  The court ordered that the trust instead be used to benefit persons of African descent.

Doctrine of Equitable Deviation – A court may modify the subordinate and/or administrative terms or restrictions of a charitable trust if compliance with such terms or restrictions has become impossible, illegal, or due to changed circumstances impairs the accomplishment of the donor’s charitable purpose.  In applying this doctrine, the court must order a modification that furthers the donor’s purpose.

For example, in The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Inc. v. Attorney General, a Massachusetts court ordered deviation from restrictions in the Will of Isabella Stewart Gardner.  Gardner’s Will provided for the establishment and continuation of the museum, its art collection, and its endowment, but imposed stringent administrative restrictions on their use, including limitations on renovations to the museum building.  Eighty years after Gardner’s death, these restrictions impaired the functioning of the museum.  The court determined that removing some of the restrictions was necessary to further Gardner’s purpose.

In practice, the doctrines can be difficult to distinguish.  The differences can be subtle.  In general, cy pres involves a change to the overriding purpose of a charitable trust, while deviation involves a change to its administrative terms only.  The difference may also be in the degree of change.  The change that results from cy pres is typically substantial or fundamental, while the change that results from deviation generally involves only subordinate trust terms.  As a result, the Attorney General and a court may impose a less exacting review in a deviation action.

Until recently, these doctrines existed in Massachusetts only as part of the common law.  The Massachusetts Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (“UPMIFA”), which became effective in 2009, codified both doctrines so that they apply to restricted charitable funds held by charitable organizations, in addition to trusts.  The Massachusetts Uniform Trust Code, which became effective in 2012, codified the doctrine of equitable deviation for charitable trusts.

These doctrines can be essential in providing needed flexibility for continuing charitable trusts, funds, and endowments that have become outdated and unusable.  Application of the doctrines may benefit both the current beneficiaries as well as further the donor’s original charitable intent, and for that reason are often uncontested.

Image of Harry Houdini from wikipedia commons

Estate Planning in Pop Culture: ABC’s Modern Family

Modern FamilyABC’s Emmy winning Modern Family is in the midst of its 8th season.  The show is fun, easy to watch, and at times very creative.  Imagine my excitement when the show took on the topic of Estate Planning in a recent episode.

Modern Family is about the extended Pritchett family.  Jay – the family patriarch – is married to the much younger Gloria, his second wife.  Jay has two adult children, Claire and Mitchell, from his prior marriage.  Gloria has one teenage son, Manny, from her prior marriage.  Together they have a young preschool age son, Joe.  Claire is married to Phil, and raising three (wildly different) teenage and young adult children.  Mitchell is gay, married to Cameron, and the father of adopted daughter Lily.

Needless to say, the Pritchett family is an Estate Planning attorney’s “dream come true”.  In a recent episode, Mitchell pressures Jay and Gloria to prepare their Estate Plan.  This subplot focuses on the difficult decision of who will serve as guardian of Joe in the event Jay and Gloria die.  This was not a particular well written or interesting episode.  Yet, it got me thinking about Jay’s and Gloria’s Estate Plan.  Their plan would be a complex and interesting one to prepare.  Here are some of the reasons why.

  1. Substantial wealth. Jay and Gloria have substantial wealth.  For that reason, they need an Estate Plan designed to minimize Estate Taxes.  This kind of plan should include Revocable Trusts with Estate Tax planning provisions and perhaps Irrevocable Trusts to own gifts to children or life insurance.  I would strongly recommend that Jay and Gloria include continuing trusts (a.k.a., dynasty trusts) for their children in their plan.
  1. Blended family. Jay and Gloria both have children from prior marriages and together have one child.   The ages of the children vary by more than a generation.  An equal and identical distribution of assets among the four children may not make sense.  It may be better to provide differently for Joe and Manny, who have not yet reached adulthood, than for Claire and Mitchell.
  1. Spouses far apart in age. Jay is substantially older than Gloria.  If Jay dies leaving everything to Gloria, his adult children may have to wait decades to inherit.  For this reason, Jay may want to leave some assets directly to his children, either outright or in trust, even if Gloria survives him.
  1. Ownership in a family business. Jay was the founder and long time owner of a very successful closet design business now run by Claire.  If Jay still owns an interest in the business, he may want to leave that interest to Claire, and allocate other assets to Gloria and the other children.
  1. International issues. Gloria was born and raised in Colombia.  And although her family was not well-off, she may nonetheless have an interest in or receive or inherit assets from Colombia.  Her Estate Plan documents must plan properly for those assets.  If Gloria were not a U.S. citizen (she became one in Season 6), Jay’s Estate Plan would need to leave assets to her in a special trust for non-U.S. citizen surviving spouses (known as a Qualified Domestic Trust).

Modern families often require complex Estate Plans.  If your family is modern or complex like the Pritchetts, you need a sophisticated Estate Plan prepared by a knowledgeable estate planning attorney.

Kaiser Law Group 2016 End of Year Newsletter

Kaiser.icon.RGBDear Friends and Colleagues:

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!  We hope 2016 has been a good year for you.  We are writing to you once again with updates on 2017 tax laws and additional estate planning news.

Update on 2017 Tax Laws

As of now, the gift, estate, and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax laws are slated to remain largely unchanged in 2017.

  • Federal – The top Federal gift and estate tax rate will remain 40% and the Federal exemption will increase to $5.49 million per individual (and $10.98 million for a married couple). The increase in the Federal exemption from $5.45 million in 2016 is due to inflation only.  The Federal gift tax annual exclusion will remain $14,000 per donee for individuals (and $28,000 per donee for married couples).   Portability will continue so that a surviving spouse will be able to use his or her predeceased spouse’s unused exemption provided he or she filed a Federal estate tax return at the first spouse’s death.
  • Massachusetts – The top Massachusetts estate tax rate will remain 16% with a Massachusetts exemption of $1 million per individual (and $2 million per married couple).  Massachusetts has not yet adopted portability of the Massachusetts estate tax exemption.

The Trump Election and Estate Taxes

Although no changes in tax law are planned for 2017, it is important not to ignore the elephant in the room.  The election of Donald Trump may mean substantial changes to Federal estate tax law.   During his campaign, Trump promised a total repeal of the Federal estate tax.  Although total repeal is not certain, substantial changes to the Federal estate tax law are likely coming in 2017 or 2018.

At this time we advise you not to make changes to your estate plan in response to the Trump election.  Your existing estate plan is not now obsolete, and may not become obsolete.   There are several reasons it does not make sense to make changes yet.

First, we simply do not know how and when the Federal estate tax law will be repealed.  There are too many unknown factors.  The Trump administration may have other priorities and may choose to attend to those first.  Repeal might be temporary or may be sunsetted and thus the estate tax reinstated in the future.  The Federal estate tax may be replaced with a new tax regime that includes a capital gains tax at death or carryover basis, both of which will require tax planning.  A new Federal tax law may also impact gift and generation-skipping tax law, which are important elements of your estate planning.  Many believe that the gift tax is unlikely to be repealed.

Second, Massachusetts will likely still have an estate tax.  Planning to minimize or reduce Massachusetts estate taxes will remain important.

Third, your estate plan is designed to do more than just estate tax planning.  It implements your wishes for your family.  It provides for your spouse, children, and other beneficiaries in the best way possible.  It protects assets for your family.  And it may reduce income taxes.  These aspects of estate planning will remain crucial elements of your estate plan, even if the Federal estate tax is repealed. 

Some of you may have considered planning in light of the proposed changes to the Section 2704 regulations, which may limit discounts of gifts of family entities.  It is now unlikely that these proposed regulations will be made final.  The possibility still remains, but we do not believe last minute planning is advisable.

Please keep in mind that there are other elements of Trump’s proposed tax plan that, if enacted, may impact you.  He has proposed reducing individual and corporate income tax rates.  In addition, he has promised repeal of the 3.8% net investment income tax (the Medicare surtax).

Massachusetts will now allow income tax deduction for 529 contributions

Section 529 plans are a great way to make gifts to children and grandchildren in a tax-advantaged manner.  In 2017, there will be yet another reason to make 529 contributions.  Massachusetts residents will now be eligible for a state income tax deduction for 529 contributions to Massachusetts’ 529 plan (MEFA’s U.Fund) of up to $1,000 per individual and $2,000 per married couple.  This change was part of a state law signed by Governor Baker in August 2016 that becomes effective in January.

Even taxpayers who are currently or will soon be paying for higher education may benefit from this change.  529 contributions made in 2017 can be withdrawn in 2017 or 2018 to pay for that year’s or next year’s tuition.   Although these contributions will not have much time to grow tax-free, the taxpayer will be able to take the income tax deduction for the contribution on his or her 2017 income tax return.  This may be a worthwhile tax savings strategy, even if college is right around the corner.

We wish you a happy and healthy 2017!

Yours truly,

Dale Ann Kaiser                       Rachel Ziegler

The information provided in this newsletter is offered for informational purposes only; it does not constitute specific client legal advice or an offering to create an attorney-client relationship.  This newsletter may be considered advertising under the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct.

Estate Planning for Non-U.S. Citizens – Tricks of the Trade

Naturalization_Ceremony_140221-N-YB753-126 (1)When you die you can leave assets of any value to your surviving spouse estate tax free, if your spouse is a U.S. citizen.  This tax deduction is known as the “unlimited marital deduction”.  Assets left to a U.S. citizen surviving spouse can qualify for the deduction if left outright or in trust, as long as the trust meets IRS requirements.

But if your spouse is not a U.S. citizen, your estate will not be eligible for the unlimited marital deduction.  This is true even if you are a U.S. citizen.  Do not underestimate the significance of this!  Your failure to plan in advance may mean your non-citizen spouse will be hit with a large estate tax bill after your death.

Do not fear, however.  There are several estate planning opportunities to minimize or eliminate this problem.  Here are a few:

Encourage your spouse to become a U.S. citizen.  As long as he or she becomes a citizen within nine (9) months of your death, he or she will be eligible for the unlimited marital deduction and no estate taxes will be due at your death.

Set up a Qualified Domestic Trust (QDOT) for your spouse.  Set up a Revocable Trust during your lifetime that provides for the funding of a marital trust that qualifies as a QDOT on your death.  The QDOT will be held for the benefit of your surviving non-citizen spouse.  As long as the QDOT meets IRS requirements, no estate taxes will be due.  Any distributions of principal (except in cases of hardship), however, will be subject to a QDOT tax at the estate tax rate that was in effect at your death.

Buy Life Insurance.  Purchase a life insurance policy on your life that is owned by either your surviving spouse or by an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT).  On your death, the proceeds from the policy will not be included in your estate and will not be subject to estate taxes at your death.  In addition, principal distributions will not be subject to the QDOT tax.

Make gifts to your spouse during your lifetime.  You can make annual exclusion gifts of up to $148,000 per year to your non-citizen spouse during your lifetime.  By making gifts of this amount over time, you will reduce the size of your estate and the resulting estate tax burden.  You will also increase the assets available to your spouse free of the QDOT tax after your death.

Image from wikipedia commons.

Estate Planning in Pop Culture: Blackish

Anthony Anderson at Diana Lopez Birthday Bash on May 22, 2010 inTracee_Ellis_Ross_2014_NAACP_Image_Awards_(cropped)ABC’s Blackish is (in my opinion) one of the best new comedies on (network) television.  Blackish is an inside look at the lives of a wealthy black couple living in Los Angeles.  André (Dré) Johnson is a successful advertising executive.  His wife, Rainbow (Bow), is an anesthesiologist.  The couple’s four children live an ultra privileged life – large house, private schools, household help – as a result of the couple’s success.  The show’s themes center on Dré’s struggle with how to teach his children what it means to be black in the U.S. amidst wealth and privilege.

In a funny, laugh-out-loud way, Blackish has taken on some very significant issues – racial stereotypes, gun ownership, police brutality, and the n-word.  So imagine my excitement when last week’s episode was about Estate Planning.  Specifically, Dré and Bow decided it was time to make an important Estate Planning decision – who would serve as legal guardian of their four children in the event of their deaths.  Like many couples, Dré and Bow have difficulty making this decision.  The difficulties they face are typical ones, and fall into three basic categories.

  1. No good choice.  Dré and Bow initially decide that all their family members are bad choices.  If you feel the same way, my advice is this – no choice is the worst choice.  If you do not choose a guardian, a court will choose for you, and the court’s choice may not be what you would have wanted.  It is better to make an imperfect decision than no decision at all.
  2. My Family vs. Your Family.  Dré says “The obvious choice is my mama”.  Bow’s response “Over my dead body. No way in hell.”  Sound familiar?  If so, consider including precatory (non-binding) language in your Will (or a separate document) in which you express your wishes about how all family members – including those you do not select as guardian – should play a role in your child’s life.  Although not binding, language like this would most likely affect how the selected guardian acts and cares for your child.
  3. Hurt Feelings.  Dré and Bow end up sitting both their mothers down together so they can ask them the same questions and then make a decision.  (They call it a “mom-off”.)  The result – Dré’s mom gets angry and storms off.  Many clients fail to make a guardianship decision because they are concerned about hurt feelings.  Keep in mind that while you probably want to discuss the appointment with the guardian you select, you do not have to discuss it with other family members.  To avoid hurt feelings, you can keep the decision private.

If you are having trouble making the guardianship decision, you are not alone.  For more advice on selecting a guardian for your children, see my prior blog post and an experienced estate planning attorney.

Images from wikipedia.