Casey Kasem was a piece of living Americana for decades — but his last few years were marred by family disputes that still overshadow better memories of him.
Now, however, he may leave Nebraskans with a lasting gift: The inspiration behind state legislation that will allow petitions from family members to visit someone who is in poor health and unable to speak for himself or herself — over their caregiver’s objections when there are obvious conflicts of interest going on.
Kasem’s family drama played out in California — his current wife prevented his adult children from visiting their father as he lay dying — and resulted in legislation that now gives Californians the right to seek visitation over a caretaker or spouse’s objections. That provides a fail-safe that not only can allow loving connections to be maintained until the last moments of life but it protects those who are dying or unable to communicate from abuse by a secretive or manipulative spouse or guardian.
A Nebraska native watched the drama play out in Kasem’s family and related to it because of a similar ordeal her family went through. While they were eventually able to see their relative because of a protective order granted by a sympathetic judge, Nebraska lacked any real legal provision that gave them the clear right to seek access to their loved one. They essentially got lucky.
Now, Nebraska has the Family Visitation Petition bill — which became effective September 2017. It provides a clear path for family members to follow if they’re seeking visitation, plus it provides the court with a framework to follow — including a timeline and costs.
The bill is expected to make it possible for people to see loved ones if they’re concerned they’re being kept away capriciously or for some nefarious purpose. They can also make the request just to be sure that their loved one is receiving adequate food, water and medical attention. This also takes a significant burden off of nursing home administrators, who are frequently put into the middle of family dramas where sides have been drawn.
Nebraska is one of only 10 states to have similar legislation.
A probate and estate attorney can provide more information if you need help asserting your right to see a relative who is sick or dying.
Source: Lincoln Journal Star, “Kasem family’s dispute was impetus that led to visitation rights law in Nebraska,” Dennis Buckley, Oct. 27, 2017