A-51156, OCTOBER 10, 1933, 13 COMP. GEN. 97

A-51156: Oct 10, 1933

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COMPENSATION - GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE TEMPORARILY A PATIENT IN A STATE HOSPITAL FOR THE INSANE WHERE AN OFFICER OF A STATE INSTITUTION FOR THE MENTALLY AFFLICTED IS AUTHORIZED BY A STATE STATUTE TO RECEIVE AND ACCOUNT FOR MONEYS DUE THE INMATES THEREOF WHO ARE NOT UNDER GUARDIANSHIP OR COMMITTEESHIP. TAVENRATH BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT HIS COMMITMENT TO THE INSTITUTION IS EXPECTED TO BE OF SHORT DURATION. WHO IS NOW HANDLING HIS AFFAIRS. TAVENRATH WAS COMMITTED TO THE STATE INSTITUTION IS GIVEN AS APRIL 17. TAVENRATH HAD NOT BEEN SEPARATED FROM THE SERVICE AND THAT HE WAS STILL ON THE PAY ROLL IN A PAY STATUS. THE ADMINISTRATION OF PERSONAL ESTATES COMES UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE COURTS OF THE STATE IN WHICH THE PERSON IS DOMICILED.

A-51156, OCTOBER 10, 1933, 13 COMP. GEN. 97

COMPENSATION - GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE TEMPORARILY A PATIENT IN A STATE HOSPITAL FOR THE INSANE WHERE AN OFFICER OF A STATE INSTITUTION FOR THE MENTALLY AFFLICTED IS AUTHORIZED BY A STATE STATUTE TO RECEIVE AND ACCOUNT FOR MONEYS DUE THE INMATES THEREOF WHO ARE NOT UNDER GUARDIANSHIP OR COMMITTEESHIP, PAYMENT OF SALARY DUE FROM THE UNITED STATES TO ITS EMPLOYEES WHO MAY BE INMATES OF THE INSTITUTION MAY BE MADE TO THE OFFICER THEREOF WITHIN THE LIMITS AND UNDER THE CONDITIONS PRESCRIBED BY THE STATE STATUTE, AND PAYMENTS SO MADE CONSTITUTE A VALID ACQUITTANCE OF THE GOVERNMENT'S OBLIGATION THE SAME AS IF MADE TO A FIDUCIARY APPOINTED BY A COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, OCTOBER 10, 1933:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO THE LETTER OF THE FIRST ASSISTANT POSTMASTER GENERAL, DATED AUGUST 28, 1933, REF. SPD, SUBMITTING FOR MY DECISION THE QUESTION OF WHETHER ANY PORTION OF THE SALARY DUE WILLIAM TAVENRATH, A CLERK ASSIGNED TO THE UNITED STATES POST OFFICE AT NEW YORK CITY, N.Y., NOW TEMPORARILY COMMITTED TO THE ROCKLAND STATE HOSPITAL AS A MENTALLY INCOMPETENT, MAY BE PAID TO THE SUPERINTENDENT THEREOF FOR THE PURPOSE OF REIMBURSING SAID INSTITUTION FOR THE COST OF THE INMATE'S BOARD AND TREATMENT DURING HIS CONFINEMENT THEREIN.

IT APPEARS THAT NO COMMITTEE OR GUARDIAN HAS BEEN APPOINTED FOR MR. TAVENRATH BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT HIS COMMITMENT TO THE INSTITUTION IS EXPECTED TO BE OF SHORT DURATION, AND THAT HIS SISTER, WHO IS NOW HANDLING HIS AFFAIRS, SEEKS TO AVOID THE EXPENSES INCIDENT TO THE APPOINTMENT OF A COMMITTEE OR GUARDIAN OF HIS ESTATE, AND REQUESTS THAT, IF PROPER, PAYMENTS OF SALARY DUE THE EMPLOYEE BE PAID TO THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE HOSPITAL TO COVER THE COST OF HIS BOARD AND TREATMENT.

THE DATE ON WHICH MR. TAVENRATH WAS COMMITTED TO THE STATE INSTITUTION IS GIVEN AS APRIL 17, 1933. IN THIS CONNECTION THE ASSISTANT POSTMASTER OF THE UNITED STATES POST OFFICE AT NEW YORK CITY REPORTED IN HIS LETTER OF AUGUST 10, 1933, TO THE COMPTROLLER FOR THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT, THAT MR. TAVENRATH HAD NOT BEEN SEPARATED FROM THE SERVICE AND THAT HE WAS STILL ON THE PAY ROLL IN A PAY STATUS, SAID EMPLOYEE APPARENTLY COMING WITHIN THE PROVISIONS OF PARAGRAPH 4 OF SECTION 458 AND SECTION 44 OF THE POSTAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS, 1932, PROVIDING, IN EFFECT, THAT EMPLOYEES SHALL NOT BE SEPARATED FROM THE SERVICE ON ACCOUNT OF ILLNESS FOR A PERIOD OF LESS THAN 1 YEAR AND THAT NO SICK LEAVE WITH PAY IN EXCESS OF 6 MONTHS SHALL BE GRANTED DURING ANY ONE FISCAL YEAR.

SECTION 14 OF THIS CHAPTER 395, MENTAL HYGIENE LAWS OF 1933, NEW YORK STATE, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

14. THE COMMISSIONER MAY AUTHORIZE SUPERINTENDENTS OF STATE INSTITUTIONS IN THE DEPARTMENT TO RECEIVE FUNDS DUE AN INMATE WHO HAS NO COMMITTEE, UP TO AN AMOUNT NOT EXCEEDING THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS WITHOUT TAKING PROCEEDINGS FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF A COMMITTEE. SUCH FUNDS SHALL BE PLACED TO THE CREDIT OF THE INMATES FOR WHOM RECEIVED, AND DISBURSED, ON THE ORDER OF THE SUPERINTENDENT TO PROVIDE LUXURIES, COMFORTS AND NECESSITIES FOR SUCH INMATES, INCLUDING SUPPORT AND BURIAL EXPENSES. THE COMMISSIONER MAY AUTHORIZE SUPERINTENDENTS, ON BEHALF OF SUCH INMATES, TO GIVE RECEIPTS, EXECUTE RELEASES AND OTHER DOCUMENTS REQUIRED BY LAW OR COURT ORDER AND TO ENDORSE CHECKS AND DRAFTS, OR TO PERMIT INMATES TO DO SO, IN ORDER THAT THE PROCEEDS MAY BE DEPOSITED TO THE CREDIT OF SUCH INMATES IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SUBDIVISION.

THESE PROVISIONS OF THE STATE LAW MAY BE COMPARED WITH SIMILAR PROVISIONS IN FEDERAL LAWS AUTHORIZING THE SUPERINTENDENT OF CERTAIN FEDERAL INSTITUTIONS TO RECEIVE PAYMENTS FOR AND ON BEHALF OF THE INMATES THEREIN AND REQUIRING A STRICT ACCOUNTING OF ALL SUCH MONEYS RECEIVED. SEE, FOR INSTANCE, U.S.C. TITLE 24, SECTION 165, RESPECTING MONEYS PAYABLE TO INMATES OF ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, AND THE RECENT DECISION OF THIS OFFICE, A-51061, DATED SEPTEMBER 26, 1933, IN REFERENCE THERETO.

GENERALLY, THE ADMINISTRATION OF PERSONAL ESTATES COMES UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE COURTS OF THE STATE IN WHICH THE PERSON IS DOMICILED. MONEYS DUE FROM THE UNITED STATES HAVE NO SITUS, VAUGHN V. NORTHUP, 15 PETERS 1, WYMAN V. HALSTEAD, 109 U.S. 654, UNITED STATES V. BORCHERLING, 185 U.S. 223, BUT PAYMENT OF MONEYS DUE FROM THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT TO LEGALLY INCOMPETENT PERSONS RESIDING IN A PARTICULAR STATE MAY BE MADE TO THE GUARDIAN, COMMITTEE, OR CONSERVATOR OF SUCH PERSON APPOINTED BY A COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION, AND ALL PAYMENTS MADE TO SUCH FIDUCIARIES CONSTITUTE A VALID ACQUITTANCE OF THE GOVERNMENT'S OBLIGATION. THE STATE COURTS EFFECTING SUCH FIDUCIARY APPOINTMENTS ARE CREATURES OF STATE STATUTES OR CONSTITUTIONS. STATE INSTITUTIONS FOR THE MENTALLY AFFLICTED ARE LIKEWISE CREATURES OF STATE STATUTE. WHERE, THEREFORE, THE SUPERINTENDENTS OF SUCH INSTITUTIONS ARE AUTHORIZED BY STATE STATUTE TO RECEIVE AND ACCOUNT FOR MONEYS DUE THE INMATES THEREOF, THEY BECOME, FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES, LEGALLY CONSTITUTED FIDUCIARIES OF THE ESTATES OF THEIR INMATES, WITHIN SUCH LIMITATIONS AS THE STATUTE MAY PRESCRIBE, THE SAME AS IF APPOINTED BY A COURT, AND PAYMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT TO THE SUPERINTENDENT OF ANY SUCH INSTITUTION OF ANY MONEY DUE THE INMATES THEREOF UNDER THE CONDITIONS AND WITHIN THE LIMITATIONS PRESCRIBED BY STATUTE LIKEWISE CONSTITUTES A VALID ACQUITTANCE TO THE UNITED STATES.

ACCORDINGLY, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT SINCE, UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS, THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE HOSPITAL IS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE STATE LAW, SUPRA, "TO RECEIVE FUNDS DUE AN INMATE" AND "TO ENDORSE CHECKS AND DRAFTS, OR TO PERMIT INMATES TO DO SO," THERE MAY BE FORWARDED TO THE EMPLOYEE IN CARE OF THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE ROCKLAND STATE HOSPITAL THE FIRST OF THE SALARY CHECKS NOW IN YOUR POSSESSION NOT TO EXCEED $300 IN AMOUNT, WHEREUPON SUCH CHECK OR CHECKS MAY BE ENDORSED AND CASHED BY THE SUPERINTENDENT UPON A SHOWING THAT ALL THE CONDITIONS PRESCRIBED BY THE STATE STATUTE HAVE BEEN COMPLIED WITH, INCLUDING A SHOWING (1) THAT THE COMMISSIONER OF THE DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HYGIENE, STATE OF NEW YORK, HAS AUTHORIZED THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE HOSPITAL HEREINBEFORE NAMED "TO RECEIVE FUNDS DUE AN INMATE" AND/OR "TO ENDORSE CHECKS AND DRAFTS; " (2) THAT NO COMMITTEE OF THE EMPLOYEE'S ESTATE HAS BEEN APPOINTED BY A COURT OF COMPETENT URISDICTION; AND (3) THAT SUCH PAYMENT, TOGETHER WITH ANY PREVIOUS PAYMENTS TO THE SUPERINTENDENT FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PATIENT, WILL NOT EXCEED THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT AUTHORIZED UNDER THE STATUTE TO BE SO PAID.