Declaration of Right of Disposition
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The sad story of Casey Kasem and the bitter dispute between his wife Jean and his children from his first marriage points out the importance of end-of-life planning. Due to Mr. Kasem’s dementia he was unable to make medical decisions as his health deteriorated. Apparently things got so bad that he was no longer able to survive without medical life support. His wife wanted to continue medical care at all costs, while his three children believed care should be withdrawn. The children filed a case in a California court, where the children prevailed. Life support was withdrawn and Mr. Kasem died not long thereafter.
This helps demonstrate the importance of a living will and of designating an agent to make medical decisions when you are unable to do so. Even if these documents have been signed and provide direction, terminating medical treatment at the end of someone’s life is a difficult and painful decision. Without such documents in place the situation becomes much worse, unfortunately leading to bitter legal disputes in some cases like Mr. Kasem’s. Without a living will or a healthcare power of attorney the probate judge may wind up being the one making the decisions about medical care.
In Mr. Kasem’s case unfortunately the problems did not end with his death on June 15, 2014. A dispute arose about the handling of his remains. His wife had his body removed to Montreal Canada shortly after his death leading to charges by his children that his body was missing. Subsequent news stories indicate that he will be buried in Oslo, Norway, against the wishes of his children, who maintain that he wanted to be buried in a certain cemetery in California where he had lived for most of his life. At least one Norwegian funeral home said it won’t bury Casey Kasem after his protests from his children and people signing an online petition.
It has been reported that Casey Kasem left an estate of $80 million. You may not have that type of net worth but a some planning could save your loved ones a lot of grief and emotional suffering nonetheless.
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