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Radio legend's passing teaches several estate planning lessons

Generations of people in Lee County grew up listening to radio host Casey Kasem deliver the latest and greatest in pop music. Out of the public spotlight for years after his retirement, Kasem reappeared in the news suddenly these past weeks as a bizarre family dispute played out between his wife and his adult children.

At one point, it was reported that the radio legend had gone missing. Then, Kasem's current wife and his children disparaged the other in the media. They each alleged the other was trying to take advantage of Kasem's dementia. While Kasem was laid to rest this past week, the battle of his estate is likely just beginning. His story offers several important lessons for Florida residents conducting their own estate planning.

First and foremost, individuals are urged to plan for their disability. While losing our ability to manage finances and medical decisions may seem unnecessary given one's current health, none of us can predict how our bodies and mind will hold up in old age. Therefore, it is vital for Floridians to execute livings wills, healthcare directives and powers of attorney.

While some forms offered by healthcare organizations may be sufficient, the more specifically these documents are drafted, the less likely one's family will get into a dispute over what is to be done.

In addition to planning for one's own health and welfare, it is important to plan for the distribution of one's assets. While this can be done with a simple will or trust, questions often arise when certain heirs claim an amendment was made shortly before death while the others allege the decedent lacked the mental capacity to make such a change.

To avoid these and other scenarios, it can be valuable to work closely with a local Lee County estate planning attorney. They can help draft estate planning documents that eliminate ambiguity and set out a clear path for family members to follow. While most of us won't be in the news when our family gets into a dispute about our health and estate, most of us would like to avoid such disputes just the same.

Source: RIS Media, "Casey Kasem's Ordeal Offers 5 Estate-Planning Lessons," Brett Snider, June 18, 2014

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