AS A DISC JOCKEY in high school and college nothing influenced my love for music as much as Casey Kasem. I remember even at 12 years old sitting on the floor next to my new stereo system (with an 8-track player!) and listening to the entire Weekly Top 40. I’d sit with a sheet of paper and write out everything, from the new hot songs just appearing on the charts to the “long distance dedication” (sure to make any room dusty), to the big number one hit “from coast to coast” each episode.
As a podcaster, I still learn from Casey Kasem. I think Casey stayed on top not just because of his golden voice but because of his ability to make every weekly show dramatic. I didn’t think these were the top 40 songs of the week; I thought of them as the soundtrack for my life.
That’s why it’s so unfortunate that the end of his life was so….er….dramatic.
For those people who try their best to ignore pop news (like me!), here’s the synopsis: Casey’s daughter filed a lawsuit because Casey’s spouse “stole” him from the place he was receiving treatment and moved him to an undisclosed location. She (Casey’s spouse, thought that The courts agreed and soon they “found” Casey, brought him back to a facility, and soon after, Casey passed away.
Those of you who followed all of the Kasem family fireworks know that I’ve just shared a little less than the bare-bones story. There was plenty of fighting between spouse and daughter, and lots of grandstanding about who actually loved Casey most.
Pretty much everyone.
That’s why I think there are SO many lessons we can learn from this situation.
1) Create a complete estate plan. I don’t know the details of Casey Kasem’s estate plan, but yours should include an advanced health care directive. This will ensure that if you don’t have the ability to talk to your physicians, your wishes are clear, spelled out, and (most importantly) written in a legal document.
2) Declare (in your health care directive) who is going to be in charge. The fight between Casey’s spouse and daughter may not have played out if everyone knew exactly who was going to call the shots. Who should you have call the shots? I’d recommend someone with a medical background, if possible. If not, make it the most level-headed person in your family. They don’t have to know medicine, but they DO need to be clear about your wishes and have the ability to make them happen, even if everyone is complaining.
3) Hold a family meeting to discuss your plans. If the entire family knows exactly what you want, it’ll be easier for family members to decide exactly what the best course of action should be later.
Would these three steps have prevented the whole family from imploding in public?
As one estate planning attorney I recommended to many of my clients liked to remind me, anyone can go off the deep end for any reason, at any time. If you have your financial house in order, though, you make the chances that you’ll all end up on the front page (with nobody looking good) much, much less.
Photo: Alan Light
Want more? How about and awesome book that Kasey might like…about my hometown and history of music.