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Casey Kasem controversy leads to new rights for children of ill parents

Adult children barred from visiting an ailing parent can seek recourse in the courts under new law

Adult children barred from visiting an ailing parent will now have a way to seek legal recourse under a bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday.

The measure, by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale), was introduced after the three adult children of Casey Kasem, the well-known Los Angeles-based disc jockey and radio personality, said they were blocked from seeing their father by his wife of more than 30 years. Kasem was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and a form of dementia, and died in 2014.

In the past, judges did not have explicit authority to enforce the visitation rights of an ailing adult. The law provided spouses all rights relating to the care of a loved one. 

Under the new law, a judge can issue an order that specifically grants a conservator — someone who acts on behalf of an ailing adult — the power to enforce the adult's rights to receive visitors, phone calls and personal mail.

The bill, AB 1085, also requires caretakers to notify certain individuals of the ailing adult’s death. 

“Conflict among family members is the last thing our loved ones want to see as they approach their final hours,” Gatto said in a statement. “I hope this bill will help decrease the heartache and stress of families already facing difficult circumstances.”

The state Assembly passed the measure in May, and the state Senate approved it in June.

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