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How Important is it to be Clear When Drafting Your Last Wishes? The Casey Kasem Example.
Unfortunately, America’s Top 40 host, Casey Kasem passed away, June 15, 2014 after a long battle with Lewy Body Disease (form of dementia). His passing is a sad and difficult one, but so is the legal battle that erupted before his death. Kasem’s daughter, Kerri, and wife, Jean, had been fighting relentlessly about the care of Kasem in his last months. Jean, Kerri’s step-mother, wanted to continue using artificial nutrition and administering medication to Kasem to keep him alive. Kerri wanted to begin “end-of-life” measures by ceasing all nutrition and medication as they were – doctors said – causing Kasem more pain than comfort.
The question stands, what did Casey Kasem want? According to his November 11, 2007 power of attorney, Casey Kasem gave power of medical authority to his three oldest children (Kerri, Julie and Mike) and inserted a healthcare derivative stating; “If the extension of my life would result in a mere biological existence, devoid of cognitive function, with no reasonable hope for normal functioning, then I not desire any form of life-sustaining procedures.” This statement, along with doctor recommendation, is what led the judge to rule on June 13th that Casey Kasem be removed from any artificial nutrition and medical assistance.
Although it doesn’t always keep legal arguments at bay, being clear in your desires helps to ensure that your medical needs, property needs, financial needs and all other needs are taken care of to the specifics you have requested. How do you keep your family from fighting over your wishes after you’re gone? These tips, do not guarantee, but can ensure that your last wishes are satisfied and avoid or limit disagreements between family members.
Clearly describing your last wishes will help keep any uncertainties or problems from arising.
Let your family know what you are doing. Talk to your family and make them aware of what you are thinking and why. This way it will not come as a surprise when the time comes to implement your wishes.
Seek advice from an attorney.
Your attorney will be able to help you clearly word your desires in the appropriate legal document, keep them simple yet specific, and make you aware of possible issues that could arise from your wishes. An attorney, experienced in this area, will help you plan and document your affairs to ensure that your wishes are carried out to avoid added stress to your loved ones at this time of grief.
“Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” – Casey Kasem (1932-2014)
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