A-6201, NOVEMBER 29, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 501

A-6201: Nov 29, 1924

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

ARE NOT ASSETS WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 201 (1) OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT OF JUNE 7. THE PROCEEDS OF COMMERCIAL INSURANCE PAYABLE TO A VETERANS' DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY WHO HAD NO INSURABLE INTEREST IN THE LIFE OF THE INSURED ARE ASSETS SO FAR AS THEY EXCEED THE PREMIUMS PAID BY THE BENEFICIARY. ARE NOT ASSETS WHEN THE DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY HAS AN INSURABLE INTEREST UNLESS THEY ARE SUBJECT TO THE PAYMENT OF THE EXPENSES OF BURIAL BY VIRTUE OF SOME LAW OF THE JURISDICTION. 1924: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 5. THIS BUREAU IS CALLED UPON TO DETERMINE WHETHER CERTAIN VETERANS DIE WITHOUT LEAVING SUFFICIENT ASSETS TO MEET THE EXPENSES OF BURIAL AND TRANSPORTATION OF THE BODY. THE PARTICULAR LANGUAGE OF THIS SECTION WHICH REQUIRE SUCH DETERMINATION READS AS FOLLOWS: "WHERE A VETERAN OF ANY WAR DIES AFTER DISCHARGE OR RESIGNATION FROM THE SERVICE AND DOES NOT LEAVE SUFFICIENT ASSETS TO MEET THE EXPENSES OF HIS BURIAL AND THE TRANSPORTATION OF HIS BODY AND SUCH EXPENSES ARE NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR.

A-6201, NOVEMBER 29, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 501

ESTATES OF DECEDENTS, ASSETS - BURIAL EXPENSES OF VETERANS HOMESTEADS, JOINT ESTATES, OR COMMUNITY PROPERTY, WHEN EXEMPTED FROM CLAIMS FOR EXPENSES OF BURIAL OF A DECEDENT UNDER A STATE LAW, ARE NOT ASSETS WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 201 (1) OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT OF JUNE 7, 1924, 43 STAT. 617, PROVIDING FOR THE PAYMENT OF EXPENSES OF BURIAL OF DECEASED VETERANS OF ANY WAR WHO DIED WITHOUT LEAVING SUFFICIENT ASSETS TO MEET SUCH EXPENSES. THE PROCEEDS OF COMMERCIAL INSURANCE PAYABLE TO A VETERANS' DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY WHO HAD NO INSURABLE INTEREST IN THE LIFE OF THE INSURED ARE ASSETS SO FAR AS THEY EXCEED THE PREMIUMS PAID BY THE BENEFICIARY, BUT ARE NOT ASSETS WHEN THE DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY HAS AN INSURABLE INTEREST UNLESS THEY ARE SUBJECT TO THE PAYMENT OF THE EXPENSES OF BURIAL BY VIRTUE OF SOME LAW OF THE JURISDICTION.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU, NOVEMBER 29, 1924:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 5, 1924, REQUESTING DECISION OF QUESTIONS PRESENTED AS FOLLOWS:

IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 201 (1) OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT, WHICH PROVIDES FOR PAYMENT OF BURIAL EXPENSES OF DECEASED EX-SERVICE MEN, THIS BUREAU IS CALLED UPON TO DETERMINE WHETHER CERTAIN VETERANS DIE WITHOUT LEAVING SUFFICIENT ASSETS TO MEET THE EXPENSES OF BURIAL AND TRANSPORTATION OF THE BODY. THE PARTICULAR LANGUAGE OF THIS SECTION WHICH REQUIRE SUCH DETERMINATION READS AS FOLLOWS:

"WHERE A VETERAN OF ANY WAR DIES AFTER DISCHARGE OR RESIGNATION FROM THE SERVICE AND DOES NOT LEAVE SUFFICIENT ASSETS TO MEET THE EXPENSES OF HIS BURIAL AND THE TRANSPORTATION OF HIS BODY AND SUCH EXPENSES ARE NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR, THE UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU SHALL PAY THE FOLLOWING SUMS: FOR A FLAG TO DRAPE THE CASKET, AND AFTER BURIAL TO BE GIVEN TO THE NEXT OF KIN OF THE DECEASED, A SUM NOT EXCEEDING $5; ALSO FOR BURIAL EXPENSES A SUM NOT EXCEEDING $100, TO SUCH PERSON OR PERSONS AS MAY BE FIXED BY REGULATIONS.'

IN MAKING THIS DETERMINATION THIS BUREAU IS CONFRONTED WITH THE FOLLOWING PROBLEMS:

(1) A VETERAN DIES LEAVING AS HIS SOLE ESTATE PROPERTY EXEMPTED BY LAW AS A HOMESTEAD, WHICH IS FREE OF LIABILITY FOR ALL DEBTS EXCEPT SUCH AS ARE EXPRESSLY MADE CHARGEABLE. BURIAL EXPENSES ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THE CLASS OF DEBTS SO MADE CHARGEABLE. DOES SUCH A VETERAN DIE WITHOUT LEAVING SUFFICIENT ASSETS TO DEFRAY THE EXPENSES OF BURIAL WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 201 (1) OF THE STATUTE? IN THIS CONNECTION YOUR ATTENTION IS INVITED TO THE DECISION OF THE COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY, DATED JANUARY 20, 1896, WHEREIN IT WAS HELD IN A CASE WHERE THE PROPERTY LEFT BY A DECEASED PENSIONER CONSISTED SOLELY OF A HOMESTEAD NOT LIABLE FOR BURIAL EXPENSES THAT NO ASSETS WERE LEFT WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT OF MARCH 2, 1895. (2 COMP. DEC. 358.)

(2) A VETERAN AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH HAD AS HIS SOLE ESTATE JOINT OWNERSHIP IN CERTAIN PROPERTY, SUCH AS A U.S. GOLD BOND, JOINT TREASURY CERTIFICATE, PROMISSORY NOTE, REAL ESTATE HELD UNDER A TENANCY BY THE ENTIRETY OR AS COMMUNITY PROPERTY, ALL RIGHT AND TITLE TO WHICH PASSES TO THE SURVIVOR ON THE DEATH OF THE VETERAN. DOES SUCH A VETERAN DIE WITHOUT LEAVING SUFFICIENT ASSETS TO DEFRAY THE EXPENSES OF BURIAL WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 201 (1) OF THE STATUTE?

(3) A VETERAN DIES LEAVING NO ESTATE WHATEVER, BUT LEAVES INSURANCE PAYABLE TO A DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY. DOES SUCH A VETERAN DIE WITHOUT LEAVING SUFFICIENT ASSETS TO DEFRAY THE EXPENSES OF BURIAL WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 201 (1) OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT?

ASSETS ARE DEFINED BY BOUVIER TO BE---

THE PROPERTY IN THE HANDS OF AN HEIR, EXECUTOR, ADMINISTRATOR, OR TRUSTEE WHICH IS LEGALLY OR EQUITABLY CHARGEABLE WITH THE OBLIGATIONS WITH SUCH HEIR, EXECUTOR, ADMINISTRATOR, OR OTHER TRUSTEE IS, AS SUCH, REQUIRED TO DISCHARGE.

ORDINARILY BURIAL EXPENSES ARE A PREFERRED CHARGE AGAINST ANY ASSETS LEFT BY DECEDENT. HOWEVER, BY VARIOUS STATE LAWS PARTICULAR FORMS OF PROPERTY OR ESTATES PASS TO OTHERS, UPON THE DEATH OF PERSONS HAVING A LIMITED INTEREST THEREIN, EXEMPT FROM ALL CLAIMS FOR BURIAL EXPENSES OF THE DECEASED. THE LIMITS OF THE EXEMPTION DEPEND UPON THE STATUTES OF THE PARTICULAR JURISDICTION AND THE CONSTRUCTION GIVEN THE STATUTES BY THE COURTS WITHIN THE SAID JURISDICTION. UPON THE ASSUMPTION THEREFORE THAT, IN CONNECTION WITH THE FORMS OF PROPERTY RECITED IN QUESTIONS 1 AND 2 OF YOUR SUBMISSION, THE LAWS OF THE PARTICULAR JURISDICTION AND THE CONSTRUCTION THEREOF BY THE COURTS ENTITLE THE SURVIVING BENEFICIARY TO THE ENTIRE PROPERTY OR ESTATE WITHOUT PAYMENT OF OF DEDUCTION FOR BURIAL EXPENSES OF THE DECEASED, SUCH FORMS OF PROPERTY OR ESTATES DO NOT CONSTITUTE ASSETS THE DECEASED WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 201 (1) OF THE ACT OF JUNE 7, 1924, 43 STAT. 617, AND IN THE ABSENCE OF OTHER ASSETS THE BURIAL EXPENSES OF THE DECEASED MAY BE PAID BY YOUR BUREAU WITHIN THE LIMITS PRESCRIBED BY THE ACT.

AS TO QUESTION 3, IF THE DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY HAD AN INSURABLE INTEREST IN THE LIFE OF THE DECEASED AND THE STATE LAWS DO NOT MAKE THE PROCEEDS OF THE POLICY SUBJECT TO THE BURIAL EXPENSES, SUCH PROCEEDS COULD NOT BE CONSIDERED ASSETS OF THE DECEASED SUCH AS WOULD BAR PAYMENT OF THE BURIAL EXPENSES BY YOUR BUREAU. HOWEVER, IF THE BENEFICIARY HAD NO INSURABLE INTEREST, ANY PROCEEDS OF THE POLICY IN EXCESS OF THE PREMIUMS PAID BY THE BENEFICIARY ARE ASSETS OF THE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED AND MUST BE APPLIED TO HIS BURIAL EXPENSES; IF THEY EXCEED $100 NO PORTION OF THE EXPENSES WOULD BE PAYABLE BY YOUR BUREAU, IF LESS THAN $100 AND THE DECEASED LEAVES NO OTHER ASSETS, THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE NET PROCEEDS AND $100 MAY BE PAID, BUT THE AMOUNT PAID AND THE PROCEEDS MUST NOT EXCEED THE ACTUAL BURIAL EXPENSES. 8 COMP. DEC. 534; 9 ID. 643.