July 12, 2016
Health Care Directive: The Casey Kasem Story
Legendary disc jockey and radio host Casey Kasem died last year, as many of you in Michigan remember. There was a legal fight in the final months of his life in which Kasem’s kids from his first marriage were battling Jean Kasem, Casey’s widow, over how to care for the ailing icon as he suffered through a form of dementia.
Recently, the Los Angeles County district attorney announced it was not filing elder abuse charges against Jean Kasem stemming from the case, in which she removed Casey from an elder-care facility in California and moved him to Washington state, where he eventually died.
The Debate over Health Care
The Kasem kids maintained that the care he was getting in California was consistent with Casey’s wishes, to be resting comfortably surrounded by family and friends, while Jean said he moved Casey for his own good to mitigate “media scrutiny.” It took six months for Kasem’s body to be buried, which it finally was at a cemetery in Norway last December.
You can look through all the dysfunction here and see the underlying issue in this situation. There seemed to be no etched-in-stone document such as a health-care directive, power of attorney or living will that stated Kasem’s specific wishes for care should he be unable to care for himself. We don’t know whether that was an oversight on his part, or whether there was advice against it from another party, but it’s clear that had such a document been on file, there would have been a more clear direction either to pursue the criminal charges against Jean Kasem, or at least a chance that Casey’s death would not have fractured the family.
The Ultimate Takeaway
If there is a lesson to be learned from the case study that is Casey Kasem, it is this – make sure you have your estate laid out well before your faculties leave, including a health care directive. Always prepare for the worst even as you expect the best. And whenever your thoughts change about what to do, or whether your situation changes – like divorce, death of a spouse, re-marriage, more children – all of your legal documents should be updated to reflect these changes.
For the sake of your family, do not leave this to chance. A health care directive, power of attorney and living will should all be vital parts of any Michigan estate. Putting those documents together is a valuable part of estate planning in Michigan and around the country. If you want your family to be united in celebrating your life after your pass, it would be wise to have everything in order beforehand so your memorial service is not attended by lawyers you did not know. Having a health care directive and power of attorney in place with the help of a quality estate-planning attorney – a process that could take a few hours or a couple of days – can be a wise investment in saving thousands of dollars and months of legal wrangling among family members. If you leave an inheritance, you intend to leave it for your loved ones to pass forward to others in an altruistic way, not to pay attorney bills.
If you are in Michigan and need a health-care directive or power of attorney, need to update or change an existing document, or you want more information about these documents and their roles in your estate, be sure to reach out to an estate planning attorney with offices in Brighton for sound advice.