In a legal battle that erupted in October of 2013, a Los Angeles court had recently granted former radio broadcaster Casey Kasem’s daughter temporary custody over her father’s affairs.
Casey Kasem was known to millions of Americans as the host of the American Top 40 Countdown radio show. It was reported that, after retiring in 2009, Kasem had been suffering from advanced Parkinson’s disease, a condition that had left him unable to communicate or make knowing decisions. Prior to the court’s order, Kasem had been under the care of his wife, Jean, who had apparently been in an ongoing dispute with Kasem’s adult children from his first marriage.
Though Kasem was originally thought to be suffering from Parkinson’s disease, his family has stated that he actually suffered from Lewy body disease, a condition very similar to, though much harder to differentiate from, Parkinson’s. Lewy body disease is the second most common cause of dementia in the United States after Alzheimer’s disease, and causes a range of symptoms, including hallucinations, loss of memory, and altered alert levels. As a result, suffers commonly lose their ability to make choices. Further, the condition is degenerative and has no known cure or treatments, other than those that can address some symptoms.
The legal fight that erupted between Kasem’s wife and adult children is, though unfortunate, not entirely uncommon, especially in blended family situations like his. When adult children disagree with an incapacitated parent’s spouse, both sides can feel entitled to make personal and health care decisions on that person’s behalf. When the two sides cannot agree about what the best course of action is, it can quickly lead to disagreements that have to be decided by a court.
In the Kasem situation, Kasem’s children claimed that Jean prevented them from seeing or speaking to their father since at least October of 2013.
Court’s Decisions and Preparation
In making its decisions, the court cited Kasem’s inability to make knowing decisions as it granted Kerri Kasem, his daughter, temporary power of attorney over her father’s affairs. The court stated that Kerri could have her father medically evaluated, after which the court would hold another hearing to determine what should happen next.
While situations like the Kasem case are relatively uncommon, you can take steps to prevent them. Even the simplest incapacity plan will allow you to outline what you want to happen when you become incapacitated, as well as give you the ability to choose who you want to become your representative.