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Model legislation would guarantee visitation rights with ailing parents

On Behalf of | Jun 19, 2015 | Heirs & Beneficiaries

The course of the last year has seen the deaths of many world-renowned entertainers, including radio celebrity Casey Kasem and blues legend B.B. King.

What made the demise of these two icons so noteworthy — at least from an estate planning perspective — was that prior to their passing their children were engaged in bitter legal disputes with those tasked with caring for their fathers over their inability to secure any sort of visitation. For Kasem’s children from his first marriage, it was with his second wife, while for King’s children, it was with his longtime manager.

Interestingly enough, the child of at least one Hollywood star who went through a similar experience has now helped create model legislation for lawmakers in her home state of California to consider.

This model legislation was created by Peter Falk’s daughter, Catherine, who remained incredibly close to her father, star of TV’s Columbo, long after he divorced her adoptive mother when she was only five.

For reasons unknown, Catherine and Falk’s second wife, Shera, never got along over the years and this hostility boiled over in 2008 after Falk was diagnosed with dementia. Here, Catherine encountered difficulty trying to visit her father or even secure information about his wellbeing.

While a lawsuit she filed challenging Shera’s conservatorship ultimately proved unsuccessful, she was able to secure visitation with her father at a neutral location.

The final straw, according to Catherine, was when her father died in 2011, as she was informed neither of his passing nor of the details of his funeral arrangement.

Her model legislation, known as the Peter Falk Bill, would call for some the following:

  • Conservators would be required to keep both parents and adult children apprised of pertinent health information relating to the conservatee, and provide notice of their death or hospitalization within 24 hours.
  • Parents and adult children would have a right to reasonable visitation with the conservatee.
  • Cemeteries would have to open their records to the public so that people could located the gravesites of loved ones.

According to experts, the model legislation is not altogether unreasonable given the regularity with which these types of conflicts arise. In fact, lawmakers in both Utah and New York are said to be considering versions of the bill.

What are your thoughts?  Are you onboard with the idea of securing greater visitation rights for adult children here in Florida?


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