Casey Kasem – A Family Dispute

Casey Kasem recently died at the age of 82 after a very public legal battle over his care between his wife, Jean Kasem, and his children.  The issue that eventually led the family to a Washington Courtroom.  Court was asked to decide whether Casey should be kept alive solely by life-support or allowed to die.  Jean, Casey’s wife, was adamant that her husband who had been diagnosis with a progressive brain disorder in 2007, his children were trying to prematurely end his life.  While his children argued that they were simply trying to comply with their father’s wishes to die comfortably and peacefully.

While this dispute between family members over how to best care for a loved-one in their final stage of life was well covered by the media as a result of Casey’s status in the Hollywood community, it is a not a new debate.  American families face these tough decisions very day, as the baby-boomer population continues to age.  Currently, over 10,000 people turn 65 each day, a trend that is expected to continue for the next 16 years.  Now people are living 30 years longer than they were 100 years ago.

The critical issue for all families to know and understand is that planning is key.  A well developed estate plan should include a Will, Medical Power of Attorney, Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney, and Directive to Physicians.  The Directive to Physicians is the document that was at the center of the debate in Casey’s case.  Casey had executed this document, which stated that he did not extreme measures taken to prolong his life.  Ultimately, the Washington Court agreed with the children and honored Casey’s Directive.

If you or your loved-one would like to discussed their estate planning options, please contact the experienced attorneys at Ford + Bergner LLP today.