Casey Kasem – Fame No Insulation From Elder Law Struggles
By Kent Berk on June 16th, 2014 in BLOG, conservatorship, Elder Abuse, Elder Law
Casey Kasem is the well-known host of the nationally syndicated countdown show “American Top 40” and for voicing Shaggy in the Saturday morning cartoon franchise “Scooby-Doo.” The iconic disc jockey recently passed away at the age of 82.
Preceding his passing, Mr. Kasem’s family had been in and out of Los Angeles courts, bitterly trying to win conservatorship, assert decision-making rights on his behalf, and ultimately, to ask the court to allow Mr. Kasem to be removed from artificial hydration and feeding.
The public became aware of the acrimony in May when Mr. Kasem temporarily dropped out of sight before finally being found in the state of Washington. Mr. Kasem was living with the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disorder affecting the central nervous system.
Mr. Kasem’s eldest daughter from his first marriage, Kerri Kasem, requested and was granted temporary conservatorship from a California Superior Court Judge. The status of her father’s health, finances, and potential elder abuse were the basis for granting conservatorship, according to this news article. The hearing revealed a shocking fact—the people left in charge of Mr. Kasem’s safety and welfare claimed to be unsure of his whereabouts.
At the time of the May hearing, there were conflicting reports about whether Mr. Kasem was being deliberately kept away from some of his family, or whether he may be in a location unknown to everyone. Since that time, it has been alleged that Mr. Kasem’s wife, Jean, purposefully removed him from his feeding tube while in nursing care and moved him to Washington in order to evade Kerri and her siblings. Kerri Kasem reportedly will file elder abuse charges based on this and other actions taken by Jean.
Once located in Washington, Kerri Kasem received the go-ahead for conservatorship, specifically a court-ordered investigator and adult protective services to assist in locating Mr. Kasem. He remained under conservatorship until his final day, June 15, 2014.
Mr. Kasem’s situation received substantial media attention because of the celebrity involved, and the many legal challenges made by family members.
But how many vulnerable adults in Arizona are “lost” or purposely placed in between warring family members?
Unfortunately, as elder law attorneys we see many forms of elder abuse, including physical neglect. The immediate cause of death was listed as sepsis from a bedsore, said one family member in this interview.
One of the serious threats to the safety of our elderly population is the isolation of a vulnerable adult.
Conservatorship allows a person to attend to and protect the finances of an elderly individual while under the guidance and supervision of the court. The person to care for the protected individual can be a family member, but it is not necessary under Arizona law.
In a situation like Mr. Kasem ‘s where time was of the essence due to his deteriorating health and the fact that his whereabouts were temporarily unknown, an emergency conservatorship hearing may be warranted. Immediate filing in court for an emergency conservatorship hearing can be complicated procedurally, and you may require the assistance of an experienced elder law litigation attorney.
Our law offices hope your family never experiences the kind of vulnerability like that which Casey Kasem is alleged to have experienced. We hope no one’s family member would ever need an emergency conservatorship hearing. If your family or friend does, however, a caring staff of elder law attorneys can help answer any questions you may have about the process.