In the case of Casey Kasem, no matter what happens, there are no winners here—everyone loses. Don't let this happen to you. Plan and communicate!
Celebrities make the news time and time again, and every so often we can all learn a lesson or two on their mishaps. A recent CNBC.com article, titled "What we can learn from Casey Kasem's disappearance," is a cautionary tale about things that need to be addressed during a second marriage to dodge trouble in the future. Where will dad be buried when he dies? What about medical directives and a power of attorney? With the kids from the first marriage and the new wife, these conversations are extremely emotional, sometimes irrational, and can create even greater tensions as the situation continues.
CNBC.com warns, "It's always about money, even if it isn't." CNBC.com says that estate planning—particularly when it's a second marriage—may need much thought and effort. Does everything go to the surviving spouse? Do the kids get a piece? Does it go to the wife first, and what's left goes to the kids? However you slice it, tension is ever-present and it doesn't get better over time. Even if the kids don't care about money, "they care that the spouse (who is not their mom) is getting it."
For planning, you need to speak with an experienced estate attorney and discuss the details regarding what happens with the money—making sure that your spouse is taken care of but the kids are still included. Then there's the question of heath care options and power of attorney. The CBNC.com article emphasizes that you really need to discuss this in advance.
Finally, you should talk to your family when you are competent to discuss your wishes. The article suggests that you do this with everyone in the room at the same time, so that the message to the family and the spouse is consistent. Private discussions with family members gives rise to everyone walking away with varying interpretations of the situation.
Reference: CNBC.com (May 19, 2014) "What we can learn from Casey Kasem's disappearance"