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Estate planning lessons from Casey Kasem

Florida residents may have heard that radio legend Casey Kasem's wife reportedly disappeared with him recently amid a family dispute over whether his adult children could visit him. Kasem has been diagnosed with Lewy Body Disease, a type of dementia that worsens over time. The story of his family dispute and subsequent disappearance helps illustrate the importance of creating a comprehensive estate plan and revisiting it when circumstances change.

The first lesson is that second or subsequent marriages often require special planning. A person cannot always count on a spouse to provide for children from a first marriage. Where the children are adults, a second marriage can also raise issues regarding who should be named in a medical directive or given power of attorney to act if the person becomes incapacitated. It is also important to update burial plans to consider the new spouse. There are second marriages where everything works out beautifully, but it is important to plan in case a given situation turns out differently than hoped.

There are situations where one person really unifies the family. When the person dies or becomes incapacitated, things can easily fall apart. This is especially true if there are disputes over who gets control of the family fortune. When adult children see funds going to a new spouse, they may feel slighted, even if they will inherit later.

Whenever significant life changes occur, such as remarriage, divorce, death or birth of a new relative, an estate planning attorney may be able to help review existing estate plans and incorporate those changes. The attorney will also review estate plans periodically to ensure that they continue to fit a person's ongoing needs.

Source: CNBC, "What we can learn from Casey Kasem's disappearance", Jerry Lynch, May 19, 2014

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