Although he questioned whether anything was new in a bid by Casey Kasem’s widow for a greater say in the management of her late husband’s estate, a judge Friday took under submission a motion by the radio legend’s oldest three children to dismiss their stepmother’s petition.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Clifford Klein said he will likely give Jean Kasem a chance to amend her court action, but he took the case under submission. He did not say when he would hand down a final decision, but he scheduled another hearing for May 24.
In their motion, Kerri, Julie and Michael Kasem maintain that the 2003 amendment to the Casey Kasem Revocable Trust, created in February 1982, is the controlling instrument and not the 2011 trust put forth by their stepmother.
The Kasem children’s attorney, Troy Martin, said there are distinct differences between the two competing documents.
“In a nutshell, the 2003 trust gives a life estate to Jean, and then distributes Casey’s half of the estate to Kerri, Julie, and Mike,” Martin said. “Jean has a power of appointment on her half of the estate. The 2011 trust gives Jean a power of appointment over the entire estate. So, she would have the power to say who should get the estate when she dies.”
In his court papers, Martin says Jean Kasem had a chance to contest Kerri Kasem’s petition to have the 2003 amendment declared the controlling instrument, but did not show up in court.
“Having failed to timely appear and object to Kerri’s petition, (Jean Kasem) forfeited her right to present evidence of this (2011) alleged trust instrument,” Martin wrote.
He further argues in his court papers that Jean Kasem’s petition, filed Nov. 28, “is nothing but a desperate attempt to avoid the consequences of (Jean Kasem’s) failure to appear and defend against Kerri’s petition.”
Martin reiterated his position during Friday’s hearing that Jean Kasem’s petition should be dismissed now, saying Jean Kasem had her chance for her day in court previously and did nothing.
“I have not heard anything as to how they could possibly amend this petition,” Martin said, adding that Jean Kasem “chose to thumb her nose at the court” when the validation of the 2003 trust amendment was at issue.
But Klein said he believes the state Court of Appeal favors giving parties a chance to amend their complaints and that he will likely “in an abundance of caution” do the same for Jean Kasem.
In his court papers, Jean Kasem’s lawyer, Sanford Passman, said no final judgment was issued regarding the 2003 amendment.
Jean Kasem was present during the hearing and shook her head in disagreement at times during Martin’s argument.
Kerri, Julie and Michael Kasem and their uncle, Mouner, also are plaintiffs in a wrongful death suit against Jean Kasem, with whom they fought over visitation with Casey Kasem before he died. The suit also names as a defendant their stepsister, Liberty Kasem, the only child born to Casey and Jean Kasem.
Before her father’s June 2014 death at age 82 from a form of dementia and a severe bedsore, Kerri Kasem was given temporary conservatorship powers over her father and had control of his medical care. The temporary conservatorship expired upon his death, but she was later appointed special administrator of her father’s estate.
After his death, his widow transported her husband’s body to Norway, where he was buried in an unmarked grave despite his wishes to be buried at a cemetery in Los Angeles, the wrongful death suit states.
In 2017, Jean Kasem filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington state, alleging that her stepchildren conspired to seize control of their father through a “`homicidal guardianship scam.” The suit alleges that the three children, Julie’s husband and Martin “chemically restrained” Casey Kasem and then caused his death so they could pursue his and Jean Kasem’s financial assets.
Allegations made by her stepchildren regarding her care of their father triggered an investigation by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which declined in May 2015 to file criminal charges against the onetime actress, who played the character of Loretta Tortelli on the NBC series “Cheers.”
Casey Kasem began his “American Top 40” radio show in July 1970, signing off each time with the message, “And don’t forget: Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.”
Kerri, Julie and Michael Kasem were born during their father’s 1972-79 marriage to Linda Myers.