A-55321, MAY 19, 1934, 13 COMP. GEN. 379

A-55321: May 19, 1934

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

IS NOT APPLICABLE TO PRECLUDE PAYMENT TO THE ESTATE OF THE VETERAN UNDER THE TERMS OF SECTION 501 OF THE WORLD WAR ADJUSTED COMPENSATION ACT OF MAY 19. IF THE DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH OF THE VETERAN IS UNRELATED TO THE VETERAN AND WOULD NOT. AS FOLLOWS: REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE ADJUSTED-COMPENSATION FEATURES OF THE CASE OF JAMES L. THE BENEFICIARY WAS CONVICTED OF SECOND DEGREE MURDER AND SENTENCED TO SERVE NOT LESS THAN SEVEN AND ONE-HALF YEARS. REFERENCE IS ALSO MADE TO THE CASE OF CHARLIE DEVELLIER. AS A RESULT OF A GUNSHOT WOUND AND THE BENEFICIARY WAS INDICTED FOR HIS MURDER. THE CASE WAS DISMISSED BY THE COURT ON MOTION OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY ON JANUARY 6.

A-55321, MAY 19, 1934, 13 COMP. GEN. 379

VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION - ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE - DEATH OF VETERAN CAUSED BY UNRELATED BENEFICIARY THE PRINCIPLE OF PUBLIC POLICY STATED IN THE SEVERAL DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE THAT NO PAYMENT SHOULD BE MADE OF THE AMOUNT OF AN ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE EITHER TO THE DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY OR TO THE ESTATE OF THE VETERAN, IF THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH OF THE VETERAN WOULD BENEFIT, IS NOT APPLICABLE TO PRECLUDE PAYMENT TO THE ESTATE OF THE VETERAN UNDER THE TERMS OF SECTION 501 OF THE WORLD WAR ADJUSTED COMPENSATION ACT OF MAY 19, 1924, 43 STAT. 125, AS THOUGH NO DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY SURVIVED THE VETERAN, IF THE DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH OF THE VETERAN IS UNRELATED TO THE VETERAN AND WOULD NOT, IN ANY EVENT, SHARE IN THE DISTRIBUTION OF HIS ESTATE. 9 COMP. GEN. 495; 13 ID. 72 DISTINGUISHED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS, MAY 19, 1934:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 30, 1934, AS FOLLOWS:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE ADJUSTED-COMPENSATION FEATURES OF THE CASE OF JAMES L. SPRADLEY, XC 766,839, NOW PENDING IN THIS ADMINISTRATION.

IN HIS APPLICATION FOR AN ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE DATED DECEMBER 3, 1924, THE VETERAN NAMED AS BENEFICIARY THEREOF MISS VIOLA ELIZABETH JOHNSON, DESCRIBED AS A FRIEND. THE VETERAN DIED ON APRIL 26, 1930, AS THE RESULT OF STAB WOUNDS INFLICTED BY THE BENEFICIARY. THEREAFTER, ON JUNE 26, 1930, THE BENEFICIARY WAS CONVICTED OF SECOND DEGREE MURDER AND SENTENCED TO SERVE NOT LESS THAN SEVEN AND ONE-HALF YEARS, NOR MORE THAN FIFTEEN YEARS.

REFERENCE IS ALSO MADE TO THE CASE OF CHARLIE DEVELLIER, XC 807,433. THIS VETERAN DESIGNATED AS HIS BENEFICIARY BLANCHE DEVELLIER, DESCRIBED AS SISTER-IN-LAW. HE DIED ON APRIL 15, 1931, AS A RESULT OF A GUNSHOT WOUND AND THE BENEFICIARY WAS INDICTED FOR HIS MURDER. THE CASE WAS DISMISSED BY THE COURT ON MOTION OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY ON JANUARY 6, 1933, BY REASON OF THE FACT THAT THERE WAS NOT SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO SECURE A CONVICTION. REPRESENTATIONS WERE, HOWEVER, MADE TO THIS ADMINISTRATION THAT THE CASE WAS ONE OF DELIBERATE MURDER FOR THE PURPOSE OF COLLECTING THE PROCEEDS OF THE ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE, AND PAYMENT OF THE PROCEEDS OF THE CERTIFICATE HAS BEEN REFUSED.

IN YOUR DECISION A-31607, DATED JUNE 3, 1930, ADDRESSED TO ME AS DIRECTOR OF THE THEN UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU, YOU DISCUSSED AMONG OTHERS THE CASE OF HAL R. JOHNSON, XC 423,904. IN THAT CASE THE VETERAN DESIGNATED AS BENEFICIARY OF HIS ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE MRS. STELLA MAE JOHNSON, DESCRIBED AS WIFE. THE VETERAN DIED AS THE RESULT OF A GUNSHOT WOUND INFLICTED BY THE DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY. SUBSEQUENT TO THE TIME THE WOUND WAS INFLICTED AND PRIOR TO HIS DEATH THE VETERAN EXECUTED A WILL WHICH WAS PROBATED. ITEM 2 THEREOF READ AS FOLLOWS:

"I GIVE, DEVISE, AND BEQUEATH ALL OF MY PROPERTY REAL AND PERSONAL AND MIXED WHATSOEVER AND WHERESOEVER SITUATE TO MY BELOVED UNCLE, WILLIAM E. JOHNSON, RESIDING AT FOREST, OHIO, TO HAVE AND TO HOLD TO HIM, HIS HEIRS, AND ASSIGNS FOREVER.'

IN THE QUESTION OF PAYMENT OF THE PROCEEDS OF THE ADJUSTED-SERVICE CERTIFICATE IN THAT CASE YOU STATED:

"REFERRING TO THE CASE OF HAL R. JOHNSON, IF THE VETERAN HAD TAKEN NO ACTION ATTEMPTING TO CHANGE THE BENEFICIARY SUBSEQUENT TO THE TIME HIS WIFE, THE ORIGINALLY DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY, SHOT HIM, AND PRIOR TO HIS DEATH, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN FOR APPLICATION THE PRINCIPLE ANNOUNCED BY THIS OFFICE IN THE CASE OF WILLIAM C. WILLIAMS, DECISION OF MAY 29, 1926, A-13608, WHEREIN IT WAS HELD THAT NO PAYMENT WAS AUTHORIZED TO ANYONE, EITHER THROUGH THE ORIGINALLY DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY, OR THROUGH THE ESTATE OF THE VETERAN, UNDER AN ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE WHERE THE DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY FELONIOUSLY KILLED THE VETERAN ON THE BASIS OF WHOSE SERVICE THE CERTIFICATE WAS ISSUED. THE PRINCIPLE INVOLVED WAS ONE OF PUBLIC POLICY, THE PURPOSE BEING TO PRECLUDE THE WIFE OR THOSE CLAIMING THROUGH HER TO BENEFIT BY THE DEATH OF THE VETERAN WHOM SHE KILLED, EITHER AS THE DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY OR AS A BENEFICIARY UNDER THE ESTATE OF THE VETERAN.

"BUT IN THIS CASE THE VETERAN, AFTER WIFE'S ACTION WHICH SUBSEQUENTLY RESULTED IN HIS DEATH, DEFINITELY DISINHERITED THE WIFE BY EXECUTION OF A WILL NAMING ANOTHER WHICH WOULD PRECLUDE ANY PAYMENT TO THOSE CLAIMING THROUGH HER, THERE BEING NO RIGHTS OF DOWER TO PERSONALTY IN THE STATE OF OHIO, THE DOMICILE OF THE VETERAN. * * * THE DISQUALIFICATION OF THE ORIGINALLY DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY IN THIS CASE, BY REASON OF HER CRIME, MAY BE CONSIDERED AS LEAVING THE CASE AS THOUGH NO BENEFICIARY HAD BEEN DESIGNATED; AND SINCE THE VETERAN EXECUTED A WILL UNDER THE TERMS OF WHICH THERE WOULD BE NO POSSIBILITY OF THOSE CLAIMING THROUGH THE WIFE RECEIVING ANY BENEFIT FROM THE DEATH OF THE VETERAN, PAYMENT OF THE ADJUSTED-SERVICE CERTIFICATE TO THE ESTATE OF THE VETERAN WOULD NOT BE AGAINST PUBLIC POLICY AND MAY BE MADE ACCORDINGLY.'

IF NEITHER THE DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY IN THE SPRADLEY CASE NOR IN THE DEVELLIER CASE IS AN HEIR OF THE DECEASED VETERAN, OR OTHERWISE ENTITLED TO SHARE IN THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE PROCEEDS OF HIS ESTATE, MAY THE PROCEEDS OF THE ADJUSTED-SERVICE CERTIFICATES BE AWARDED AND PAID TO THE ESTATES OF THE RESPECTIVE VETERANS, FOLLOWING YOUR DECISION IN THE JOHNSON CASE, SUPRA? YOUR DECISION ON THIS QUESTION IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED.

THE PRINCIPLE OF PUBLIC POLICY STATED IN THE SEVERAL DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE THAT NO PAYMENT SHOULD BE MADE OF THE AMOUNT OF AN ADJUSTED-SERVICE CERTIFICATE EITHER TO THE DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY OR TO THE ESTATE OF THE VETERAN, IF THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH OF THE VETERAN WOULD BENEFIT, IS NOT APPLICABLE TO PRECLUDE PAYMENT TO THE ESTATE OF THE VETERAN UNDER THE TERMS OF SECTION 501 OF THE WORLD WAR ADJUSTED COMPENSATION ACT OF MAY 19, 1924, (43 STAT. 125), AS THOUGH NO DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY SURVIVED THE VETERAN, IF THE DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH OF THE VETERAN IS UNRELATED TO THE VETERAN AND WOULD NOT, IN ANY EVENT, SHARE IN THE DISTRIBUTION OF HIS ESTATE.

ON THE BASIS OF THE FACTS STATED, THERE WOULD APPEAR TO BE NO LEGAL OBJECTION TO PAYMENT OF THE PROCEEDS OF THE ADJUSTED-SERVICE CERTIFICATES TO THE ESTATE OF THE VETERAN IN EACH OF THE CASES PRESENTED.