Casey Kasem, beloved host of the American Top 40 radio show and the iconic voice of Shaggy in Scooby-Doo over decades, was unfortunately recently at the center of a family feud over his care.
Kasem was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, the most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, according to CNN.
Kasem was married to his wife of 34 years, Jean Kasem, with whom he has one daughter, Liberty. From his previous marriage, Kasem had three children: two daughters, Julie and Kerri, and one son, Mike.
In 2013, Kerri and her two siblings filed a conservatorship petition, alleging that Jean was preventing Kasem from seeing his children and friends. The petition also claimed that Jean was preventing Julie and her husband from checking on Kasem’s health, even though Kasem had given them power of attorney over his health care. The judge in this case denied their petition.
However, a new judge approved Kerri as the temporary conservator of her father. The judge also ordered Jean to surrender Kasem’s passport: this ruling came after Kasem went missing for several days from his nursing home before being found in Washington state with Jean.
Shortly before his death, Kasem was in the hospital while his family has been battling in court. Because of his condition, he was unable to communicate his wishes. This means that a judge was reviewing the claims of Jean, Kerri, and Kasem’s other children in order to determine the course of action that best served his needs.
This is a tragic case. Kasem’s situation illustrates why it is critical to make health care arrangements ahead of time, in case you are ever incapacitated by illness or injury. Your family may have differing opinions about your care, and this could lead to familial strife—at best—or a court battle—at worst.
In Kasem’s case, it seems that he may have made arrangements in advance: his daughter Julie claims that she and her husband are his health care proxies; however, this document must be produced (and, of course, valid) in order to be legally enforceable. If an estate planning document is created but never found, it’s almost as if it was never created at all—which is also why it is important for you to let your family know where you have stored your documents.