Casey Kasem, celebrity radio host known for the countdown of America’s Top 40 popular songs for years, died on June 15 at the age of 82.  Casey had an estimated $80 million fortune at that time.

He also left a large family feud between his surviving spouse and his three children from a prior marriage.

(This is why I do what I do — a large part of planning with my office is to help families plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation without conflict or concern AND to keep families out of court.)

Here’s the story …

Casey’s second wife, Jean, is 22 years younger. Casey and Jean  had one child, Liberty Kasem.  Casey also had three children from a prior marriage: Kerri, Mike and Julie.  The family discord started prior to Casey’s death. In the month before his death, two of his children, Mike and Julie, filed a missing persons case with the Santa Monica police department saying they could not locate their father.  Apparently at that time, Kerri was fighting with Casey’s wife over control of his care.

After Casey died, news broke that his body had been taken from the Washington state funeral home and a judge awarded Kerri a temporary restraining order preventing Jean from removing his remains or having him cremated before an autopsy had been performed.  Kerri hired a private investigator who says the body has been moved to Montreal, the hometown of a man who Jean has allegedly been involved with for the past two years.

A mess, right?  And they haven’t even gotten to the money yet!

A little advance estate planning could have helped prevent this scenario, which is not uncommon.

4 Estate Planning Tools

A recent WSJ Marketwatch.com article outlined four estate planning tools that could have helped to head off this disaster:

1. A Revocable trust.  Placing assets in a revocable trust can help protect the trust owner’s wealth transfer wishes, and provides the flexibility to make changes as long as the trust owner has the legal capacity to make those decisions.  Upon the owner’s death, the assets are dispersed as outlined in the trust without having to go through probate.  A trust may also be more difficult to contest than a will.

2. Life insurance.   A life insurance policy can be a good way to provide for a surviving spouse while leaving the rest of the estate to children from a previous marriage, or vice versa.

3. QTIP trust.  A qualified terminal interest property (QTIP) trust is used to set aside assets for a surviving spouse’s benefit while that spouse is alive.  After the surviving spouse passes, the remaining assets in the trust are passed on according to the trust terms (which may provide that the assets are distributed to the children).

4. Family meeting.  Having a family meeting so that everyone knows their beneficiary status and what will happen to the estate after the estate owner dies is a good way to head off conflict.  An estate planning attorney can mediate these meetings, which is usually advisable when there is a potential for conflict.

One of the main goals of my law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation without conflict or concern.  Call our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security.