People in California probably know Casey Kasem as the voice of Top 40 radio and one of the most memorable personalities on the airwaves. Kasem died on June 15 at the age of 82, and according to reports, was the subject of a moving tribute marked by heartfelt speeches from family, friends and loved ones. However, things were not always so pleasant in the days and months leading up to Kasem’s death, as a bitter family feud over his medical care erupted between his spouse and his children.
Kasem had been diagnosed with Lewy Body disease, a form of dementia that causes a progressive decline in cognitive ability, the effects of which may resemble Alzheimer’s disease. In 2007 he signed a living will, giving his daughter Kerri authority over his medical care, including making end-of-life decisions for the beleaguered former radio host.
By 2014 Kasem was in a nursing home, but shortly after a visit from his children, his wife Jean absconded with him without telling the children, who went on a frantic search for the two. He was finally located in Washington, where his wife had taken him, but since that time his condition had deteriorated substantially. Kerri ordered doctors to transport him to the hospital immediately.
According to doctors, Kasem was in very poor health and would probably not survive his infections. Due to Kerri’s being named in the health care directive, which is a document that can give someone powers of attorney, she was able to get the hospital to provide comfort care, knowing the end was near for her father and helping him go as peacefully as possible.
Any person who is concerned about their own health care in the future can benefit from considering these questions of estate administration, and may want to include a living will or health care directive as part of their plan. With the help of an experienced family law attorney, such a directive could prevent a lot of pain and family squabbling among heirs and other family members in the future.
Source: Forbes, “Casey Kasem teaches lessons on end of life planning and elder abuse,” Danielle and Andy Mayoras, June 12, 2014