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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Family of radio star embroiled in probate dispute

Although some Minnesotans might find it hard to believe, sometimes families entangled in probate litigation may not even be able to agree on the most basic of things, including how and where to dispose of their loved one's dead body. This can cause emotional and legal headaches.

For example, many people in Saint Paul may have heard about the ongoing fight between family members of the late radio personality Casey Kasem. This story has been attracting national attention for several weeks now. In the most recent turn of events, one of Kasem's children claimed that the body of her father was missing from the funeral home at which the family left the remains.

In fact, the funeral home that once preserved Kasem's body confirms that it no longer has custody over the remains. When asked for comment, law enforcement authorities declined to respond, saying that the investigation is a pending matter.

Kasem's case arises from contention between his widow and the radio personality's children from a prior relationship. Before the star died, the family members fought out a contested guardianship in court. At one point while Kasem was ailing, Kasem's widow removed him from a nursing home and took him to stay with a friend hundreds of miles away. The widow denies that Kasem's body is "missing."

While this case may seem a little bizarre to the average Minnesota resident, it illustrates an important point. Specifically, probate litigation is sometimes necessary immediately following a person's death, particularly when contention is high between family members or other heirs. While a grieving family member might not want to rush to an attorney's office right after a loved one dies, doing so may be the best way to prevent an extremely messy legal situation that could have long-term emotional and other consequences.

Source: CNN, "Casey Kasem's body is missing, daughter says," Jane Caffrey, July 19, 2014

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