Samuel Goldwyn is credited with the observation that, "A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on." The aphorism is apt for estate planning and funeral arrangements as well.
According to many family members, late Top 40 Radio DJ Casey Kasem
wished to be buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California, close to where he had lived. Four months after his death, he still has not been laid to rest, after a failed attempt by his wife to have him buried in Norway.
The developments are perhaps the final bizarre chapter in Kasem's sad story. His wife Jean had been openly feuding for years with Kasem's three adult children from a previous marriage. During the final year of his life, she refused to allow family members visit Kasem when he was ill. His children began conservatorship proceedings and won the right to see their father.
At one point, Jean Kasem removed the feeding tube that kept her husband alive and, at 2:30AM, removed him from the nursing home that was caring for him. A nationwide manhunt ensued, and Kasem was located in Seattle. Amidst a great deal of family acrimony, there were further legal proceedings and medical evaluations. On June 15, 2014, Kasem passed away, after a judge granted his children's request that he be removed from life support.
At that point, his children's conservatorship ended and Jean Kasem took over. She ignored her late husband's wishes to be buried in California and kept his body in Washington for a month while Kasem's children sought to have an autopsy performed. They alleged that Jean refused to return the body to California lest she face criminal elder abuse charges. By the time they obtained a court order, Jean had sent the body to Oslo, Norway to have Kasem buried there.
After receiving letters from Kasem's family and on-line petition with 24,000 signatures, Norwegian officials agreed not to permit Kasem to be buried there. But his body remains stored in a hospital, with an uncertain future.
Kasem's wife insists that he was doing well while in her care before his children sought a conservatorship. It has been rumored that she may now challenge the trust Kasem set up for his children.
The troubling story is a stark demonstration of the importance of spelling out one's wishes in writing, both for end-of-life care and for funeral arrangements. If you need assistance with your estate plan
, living will, medical proxy, funeral planning, or other arrangements for yourself and your heirs, Nevada estate planning attorney Craig Stone can help. Call the Stone Law Offices at (877) 905-0890 for a consultation today.