Casey Kasem suffered terribly before his death on June 14, 2014. He had been hospitalized with a variety of severe infections, bed sores, and late stage dementia among other issues. Complicating things further was the extended legal battle between Casey’s wife and daughter (from his first wife) regarding his end of life care. The two had argued for months over various details of Casey’s care and ended up fighting until the bitter end. Most recently, there was controversy over Casey’s end of life care, specifically withholding hydration, artificial nutrition and life support. A judge granted Casey’s daughter’s request to withhold life support, even after opposition, due to an “advanced directive” signed by Casey.
Casey signed a Critical Health Care Directive appointing his daughter to make medical and end of life decisions on his behalf in the event he was unable to do so for himself. A Critical Health Care Directive is very similar to a Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney as it formally records the individual’s wishes in the event of incapacity. Casey did not want to be kept alive if he did not have cognitive function (i.e. vegetative state). His Critical Health Care Directive formally recorded that wish in addition to appointing his daughter as the ultimate decision maker. Although Casey’s wife was not ready to hand over care to Casey’s daughter, the document won the day. With such direct evidence of Casey’s wishes it would have been hard for the judge to decide any other way in this case.
Casey’s story can and should be a lesson for all of us. As much as we do not want to contemplate our own death, we have to realize that we are all going to die and with a little pre-planning, we can have a say in the circumstances. All adults should have this kind of health care directive in place to alert loved ones to our wishes in the event we become unexpectedly incapacitated. These precautions can help make the experience easier for loved ones and ensure that our end of life wishes are fulfilled.
If you are interested in putting together an estate and end of life plan call the Stone Law Offices at (877)905-0890.