The death of “America’s DJ” Casey Kasem in 2014 may seem like old news. But the issues raised by the tawdry controversy surrounding Kasem’s passing from side effects of debilitating dementia still reverberate. As we tell our clients frequently, and explain to our radio listeners, the death of Casey Kasem carries lessons for all of us.
Kasem’s 2014 death in Gig Harbor, Washington, came after months of legal wrangling over who had the right to make health care decisions for the famous radio star. While his sad tale was played out publicly in the newspapers and tabloids, the lessons from this family saga apply to everyone. According to an article written at the time on the blog of AARP, there are at least four take-aways from Kasem’s death for each of us. (Click here to read the AARP article.) Taking action now in these important areas can significantly reduce the likelihood of your loved ones arguing over your care – a burden you don’t want them to bear.
First, have an attorney prepare a health care directive. In Casey Kasem’s situation, his precise wishes were unclear, and so were his intentions about who had the power to make medical decisions for him. The result was an unseemly public dispute with Kasem in the middle.
Second, discuss your wishes in advance with all your loved ones. Every member of your family, as well as your doctor, lawyer and health care agent, needs to know your desires, so there can be no disagreement.
Third, fully answer all your attorney’s questions. When executing important end-of-life documents, your attorney will need to establish your mental competence beyond dispute – an important consideration should your loved ones ever challenge your wishes, as occurred with Casey Kasem.
Finally, decide in advance who you want among your friends and family to have visitation rights should you become ill and incapacitated. In Kasem’s case his wife refused to allow his own children to visit when Kasem’s health was failing. No one wants this kind of argument and dispute among family members!
Of course, there is much more to end of life planning than these four points. We urge you to make a Life Plan now to ensure that you have prepared for every reasonable eventuality. As a starting place, we invite you to come to one of our free Life Planning Seminars to get an overview of elements your plan should include. Click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website for dates, times and locations.
We also welcome the opportunity to meet with you in person. Simply contact our office for an appointment.
(Originally reported at www.blog.aarp.org)