A-24197, OCTOBER 10, 1928, 8 COMP. GEN. 172

A-24197: Oct 10, 1928

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IF A NAMED BENEFICIARY OF AN ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE DOES NOT EXIST AND THERE ARE NO KNOWN HEIRS OF THE INSURED. PAYMENT TO THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE IS AUTHORIZED ONLY OF THE AMOUNT OF THE PROVEN DEBTS. PAYMENT OF THE AMOUNT OF AN ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE MAY NOT BE MADE TO A PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR TO WHOM THE WILL OF THE VETERAN WAS ADDRESSED IN THE FORM OF A LETTER. IF THE TERMS OF THE WILL ARE IMPOSSIBLE OF FULFILLMENT AND THERE SURVIVE THE VETERAN NO HEIRS OR CREDITORS ENTITLED UNDER THE LAWS OF DISTRIBUTION OF THE STATE OF DOMICILE. THE VETERANS' BUREAU IS AUTHORIZED OR REQUIRED. IN THE EVENT THE DIRECTOR IS UNABLE TO ASCERTAIN THE BENEFICIARY NAMED BY THE VETERAN. FOR THE REASON THAT THERE WERE NO KNOWN RELATIVES AND THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN THE POSSIBILITY OF AN ESCHEAT TO THE STATE OF THE REMAINDER OF THE AMOUNT OF THE CERTIFICATE AFTER THE DEBTS HAD BEEN PAID.

A-24197, OCTOBER 10, 1928, 8 COMP. GEN. 172

VETERANS' BUREAU - ADJUSTED COMPENSATION - ESCHEAT IF PAYMENT OF THE AMOUNT OF AN ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE TO THE ESTATE OF A VETERAN BECOMES NECESSARY UNDER SECTION 508 OF THE WORLD WAR ADJUSTED COMPENSATION ACT, ADDED BY THE ACT OF MAY 29, 1928, 45 STAT. 949, THE GENERAL RULE CONTROLLING PAYMENTS OF GOVERNMENT FUNDS TO AN ESTATE BECOMES APPLICABLE, AND UNDER THIS RULE NO PAYMENT MAY BE MADE TO AN ADMINISTRATOR WHO HAS NO INTEREST EITHER AS HEIR OR CREDITOR, OR AS REPRESENTATIVE OF HEIRS OR CREDITORS, IN THE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED. IF A NAMED BENEFICIARY OF AN ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE DOES NOT EXIST AND THERE ARE NO KNOWN HEIRS OF THE INSURED, PAYMENT TO THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE IS AUTHORIZED ONLY OF THE AMOUNT OF THE PROVEN DEBTS. PAYMENT OF THE AMOUNT OF AN ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE MAY NOT BE MADE TO A PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR TO WHOM THE WILL OF THE VETERAN WAS ADDRESSED IN THE FORM OF A LETTER, IF THE TERMS OF THE WILL ARE IMPOSSIBLE OF FULFILLMENT AND THERE SURVIVE THE VETERAN NO HEIRS OR CREDITORS ENTITLED UNDER THE LAWS OF DISTRIBUTION OF THE STATE OF DOMICILE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU, OCTOBER 10, 1928:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER REQUESTING DECISION WHETHER, UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 508 OF THE WORLD WAR ADJUSTED COMPENSATION ACT, ADDED BY THE ACT OF MAY 29, 1928, 45 STAT. 949, THE VETERANS' BUREAU IS AUTHORIZED OR REQUIRED, IN CASES WHERE THERE WOULD BE AN ESCHEAT TO A STATE, TO PAY THE AMOUNT OF AN ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE, UPON THE DEATH OF THE VETERAN, TO THE REPRESENTATIVE OF HIS ESTATE, IN THE EVENT THE DIRECTOR IS UNABLE TO ASCERTAIN THE BENEFICIARY NAMED BY THE VETERAN.

YOU PRESENT THE TWO CASES OF CLARENCE SCHAEFFER, C-646395, AND HENRY PETERS, XC-695875, AS INVOLVING THE QUESTION SUBMITTED.

IN THE FORMER CASE THE VETERAN DESIGNATED AS BENEFICIARY OF HIS CERTIFICATE A PERSON DESCRIBED AS HIS FATHER, BUT INVESTIGATION SHOWS THAT NEITHER A FATHER NOR ANY OTHER HEIR SURVIVED HIM. THE VETERANS' BUREAU CONSIDERED THE CASE UNDER SECTION 501 OF THE WORLD WAR ADJUSTED COMPENSATION ACT AS ONE IN WHICH NO BENEFICIARY HAD BEEN DESIGNATED, BUT REFUSED TO PAY THE FULL VALUE OF THE CERTIFICATE, $1,582, TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE, ONLY PAYING THE AMOUNT OF PROVEN DEBTS APPROXIMATING $300, FOR THE REASON THAT THERE WERE NO KNOWN RELATIVES AND THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN THE POSSIBILITY OF AN ESCHEAT TO THE STATE OF THE REMAINDER OF THE AMOUNT OF THE CERTIFICATE AFTER THE DEBTS HAD BEEN PAID. THERE IS NOW PENDING FOR CONSIDERATION WHETHER OR NOT A PROMISSORY NOTE EXECUTED BY THE VETERAN IN THE SUM OF $650 MAY BE PAID, LESS A CREDIT OF $100 WHICH HAS ALREADY BEEN PAID, BUT NOT BY THE VETERANS' BUREAU.

IN THE OTHER CASE THE VETERAN HAD A CERTIFICATE AMOUNTING TO $984 FOR WHICH HE NAMED HIS ESTATE AS BENEFICIARY. HE LEFT A WILL WHICH HAS BEEN PROBATED UNDER THE LAWS OF CALIFORNIA, OF WHICH STATE THE VETERAN WAS A RESIDENT. BUT IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT THE TERMS OF THE WILL ARE IMPOSSIBLE OF FULFILLMENT, THE VETERAN FAILING TO BEQUEATH HIS ESTATE TO ANY EXISTING PERSON OR PERSONS, AND THERE SURVIVED HIM NO HEIRS ENTITLED UNDER THE LAWS OF DISTRIBUTION OF CALIFORNIA. PAYMENT TO THE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR, TO WHOM THE WILL WAS ADDRESSED IN THE FORM OF A LETTER, WOULD PROBABLY RESULT IN AN ESCHEAT TO THE STATE.

SECTION 508 OF THE WORLD WAR ADJUSTED COMPENSATION ACT, SUPRA, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF THIS ACT A VETERAN MAY, UNDER REGULATIONS PRESCRIBED BY THE DIRECTOR, NAME MORE THAN ONE BENEFICIARY, AND MAY FROM TIME TO TIME, WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE DIRECTOR, CHANGE SUCH BENEFICIARIES. IF THE DIRECTOR IS UNABLE TO ASCERTAIN THE BENEFICIARY NAMED BY THE VETERAN, PAYMENT SHALL BE MADE TO THE ESTATE OF THE VETERAN.

THE PURPOSE OF THE LAST SENTENCE OF THIS SECTION WAS ONLY TO PROVIDE A MEANS OF DISPOSING OF THE AMOUNT OF AN ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE IN THE EVENT THE DIRECTOR IS UNABLE TO ASCERTAIN THE IDENTITY OF A DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY OR BENEFICIARIES. IF PAYMENT TO THE ESTATE BECOMES NECESSARY UNDER THIS SECTION, THERE WOULD BE FOR APPLICATION THE GENERAL RULES CONTROLLING THE PAYMENT OF GOVERNMENT FUNDS TO AN ESTATE. IT HAS LONG BEEN THE ESTABLISHED RULE THAT NO PAYMENT MAY BE MADE TO AN ADMINISTRATOR WHO HAS NO INTEREST EITHER AS HEIR OR CREDITOR OR AS REPRESENTATIVE OF HEIRS OR CREDITORS IN THE ESTATE OF A DECEASED. SEE 20 COMP. DEC. 740 AND 23 ID. 95, WHICH WERE CITED WITH APPROVAL IN 4 COMP. GEN. 417, 419. SEE ALSO THE FOLLOWING CASES UNDER THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT: 7 COMP. GEN. 33; ID. 294; DECISIONS OF JULY 28 AND NOVEMBER 30, 1926, A-14609; DECISION OF JULY 21, 1928, A 23640. THE GENERAL QUESTION ABOVE STATED IS ANSWERED ACCORDINGLY.

IN THE CASE OF CLARENCE SCHAEFFER, THE DIRECTOR OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU HAS APPARENTLY CONSTRUED THE LAW AS NOT REQUIRING PAYMENT OF THE FULL AMOUNT OF THE ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE TO THE ESTATE, EVIDENTLY ON THE BASIS THAT THE LAW INTENDS, IF A NAMED BENEFICIARY DOES NOT EXIST AND THERE ARE NO KNOWN HEIRS OF THE INSURED, THAT PAYMENT TO THE ESTATE IS AUTHORIZED ONLY OF THE AMOUNT OF PROVEN DEBTS. THERE APPEARS NO REASON FOR THIS OFFICE TO DIFFER WITH THE ADMINISTRATIVE VIEW AND ACTION PURSUANT THERETO IN THIS CASE. UNDER THIS VIEW THERE WOULD ALSO BE NO LAWFUL OBJECTION TO THE PAYMENT OF THE ADDITIONAL SUM OF $500 OR $550 WHICHEVER AMOUNT REPRESENTS THE UNPAID BALANCE OF THE PROMISSORY NOTE EXECUTED BY THE VETERAN.

THE GENERAL RULE IS THAT A WILL IN WHICH SOME PERSON OR PERSONS ARE BEQUEATHED THE AMOUNT OF AN ESTATE TO WHICH THERE ARE SUMS DUE FROM THE UNITED STATES PREVENTS THE ESCHEAT TO A STATE. 7 COMP. GEN. 294. AND SUCH WOULD HAVE BEEN THE RULE IN THE CASE OF HENRY PETERS HAD THE WILL BEEN POSSIBLE OF FULFILLMENT. BUT AS NO EXISTING PERSON OR PERSONS WERE DESIGNATED TO WHICH THE AMOUNT OF THE CERTIFICATE COULD HAVE BEEN PAID UNDER THE WILL, THE SITUATION IS AS THOUGH NO WILL HAD BEEN MADE. PAYMENT IN THIS CASE OF THE AMOUNT OF THE CERTIFICATE MAY NOT BE MADE TO THE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR WHO WAS DESIGNATED IN THE WILL, IT BEING UNDERSTOOD THAT THERE ARE NO HEIRS OR CREDITORS OF THE DECEASED VETERAN.