By Brett Snider, Esq.
Beloved radio personality Casey Kasem passed away last Sunday, leaving behind a media legacy and some eye-opening lessons regarding end-of-life/estate planning.
Kasem, who was also the voice of Shaggy from “Scooby Doo” for over four decades, spent his final years in a battle over his health and his estate, with his second wife and adult children on opposite sides, reports Reuters.
As we say goodbye to the beloved “American Top 40” host, here are five estate planning lessons we may take away from Kasem’s life and death:
Have an advance healthcare directive in place. Kasem retired in 2009 and reportedly suffered from Lewy body dementia, with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease. His daughter Julie originally sought to enforce an advance healthcare directive signed in 2007, which placed her and her husband in charge of her ailing father’s health care decisions.
You may also need a power of attorney. Unfortunately for the Kasem children, their father subsequently gave power of attorney to his second wife Jean in 2011, superseding Julie’s advance healthcare directive. Advance directives, also known as living wills, are different from powers of attorney, but both are recommended. Living wills can include a designation of durable power of attorney, allowing that person to act as your agent for healthcare decisions. If made at separate times by separate parties, like with Kasem, these legal actions may conflict.
Consider a conservatorship. Even if your loved one cannot be located, you can take legal control of his or her finances or personal life by being granted a conservatorship over him or her. A month before his death, Kasem’s daughter Kerri argued for and won conservatorship over her ailing father in the face of his absence and dementia.
Be specific about life support. Kasem died shortly after being removed from life support, but only after a judge allowed his daughter Kerri to do so. Kasem’s healthcare directive had stated he did not want to be kept alive if it “would result in a mere biological existence,” reports CNN. The more specific the living will is, the easier time a court will have enforcing the ailing person’s wishes.
Prepare for estate conflicts. The fight over Kasem’s life and death will likely continue into a fight over his estate. Feuding family members should prepare for the inevitable fight over a loved one’s estate, especially if it was a battle while that person was alive.
RIP Casey Kasem, your voice will be missed.