2 words about why you need a Power of Attorney – Casey Kasem
The dispute involving the famous but sadly ailing LA radio host, Casey Kasem provides clear evidence of the need for a power of attorney. Mr. Kasem is 82 and is suffering from a form of dementia (Lewy Body Disease) as well as Parkinson’s. His family meanwhile, has been embroiled in a very public ‘spat’ over his care which has included complaints by his 3 children from a prior marriage, that his current wife of 34 years has been denying access to them.
Last year, those children had filed a petition of conservatorship (or power of attorney) to gain control of their father’s health. But a judge denied the request.They claimed that his current wife, Jean Kasem, who had been in control of his medical care had also controlled access to him and had isolated him from his family and his friends.
Late last month, one of his daughters was appointed his temporary conservator after Mr. Kasem was reported missing. He was found 3 days later in Washington state. He is currently being treated in a Washington Hospital where he is in critical condition and the battle between his family about how best to treat Mr. Kasem is ongoing. While both his children and his current wife appear to have Mr. Kasem’s best interests in mind; they disagree about how he should be treated medically.
In Canada, power of Attorney is provincially legislated and enables someone either designated legally or by a court to become a substitute decision maker AFTER a person becomes incapacitated. While a power of attorney is the term used when an individual is appointed by that individual to act on their behalf; the term guardian is used when an individual is appointed by the court.
A power of attorney is quite different from a will. Some would argue it’s more important as it enables someone to look after your interests while you are still alive but incapacitated. It can also be more complicated. A person can be incapable of making one kind of decision but not for making a different kind of decision and sometimes that can change depending on whether or not capacity is diminishing or not. A power of attorney for property versus personal care can be different and responsibility can be provided to the same individual or different individuals.
With reference to Mr. Kasem’s case, In Ontario, one of the statutory obligations for someone acting as a power of attorney is to facilitate supportive relationships, they cannot deny access to relatives just because they don’t like them.
In all cases, it’s important to choose someone who you know to be trustworthy and capable who can take on such important responsibilities. It’s also important to document a power of attorney properly and to ensure that the document is available when needed.
We have included a place for safeguarding your power of attorney inside LegacyTracker and by doing so; we hope there is a better chance that you will attend to this important task if you haven’t already. And if you don’t have one yet and live in Ontario Canada, you can download a Power of Attorney Kit from the Ministry of the Attorney General’s website