A-63197, SEPTEMBER 21, 1935, 15 COMP. GEN. 236

A-63197: Sep 21, 1935

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1935: THERE WAS RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 22. AS FOLLOWS: I HAVE THE HONOR TO SUBMIT FOR SUCH ACTION AS YOU MAY DESIRE TO TAKE UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES. WAS PAID BY THIS ADMINISTRATION TO FRANK BRYSON. UPON LEARNING THAT THERE WERE NO HEIRS AT LAW OR NEXT OF KIN TO WHOM THE ESTATE COULD BE DISTRIBUTED. BRYSON THAT THE AWARD TO HIM WAS NOT IN ORDER AND REQUESTED IMMEDIATE RETURN OF THE CHECK. ADVICE WAS RECEIVED THAT THE ENTIRE ESTATE. A COPY OF WHICH IS ENCLOSED. THIS AVENUE OF RELIEF WAS ENTIRELY CLOSED. HE ABSOLVED THE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR OF ANY PERSONAL LIABILITY ON THE THEORY THAT HE ACTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH AN ORDER ISSUED BY A COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION AND THAT THE ESTATE WAS DISTRIBUTED PURSUANT TO THE STATUTES OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA.

A-63197, SEPTEMBER 21, 1935, 15 COMP. GEN. 236

VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION - ADJUSTED COMPENSATION - PAYMENTS TO PUBLIC ADMINISTRATORS WORLD WAR ADJUSTED-COMPENSATION CERTIFICATE AWARDS MAY BE PAID TO A PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR WHERE THERE EXIST ASSETS OF THE ESTATE OTHER THAN THE PROCEEDS OF SUCH CERTIFICATES, AND CLAIMS AGAINST THE ESTATE TO BE ADJUDICATED. 8 COMP. GEN. 172 AMPLIFIED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS, SEPTEMBER 21, 1935:

THERE WAS RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 22, 1935, AS FOLLOWS:

I HAVE THE HONOR TO SUBMIT FOR SUCH ACTION AS YOU MAY DESIRE TO TAKE UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, THE CASE OF CHARLES FOARD, XC-797,871.

FOLLOWING THE DEATH OF THIS VETERAN, THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE FACE VALUE OF HIS ADJUSTED-SERVICE CERTIFICATE AND THE OUTSTANDING INDEBTEDNESS AGAINST IT BECAUSE OF LOANS AND INTEREST, I.E., $496.69, WAS PAID BY THIS ADMINISTRATION TO FRANK BRYSON, PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNDER AN AWARD APPROVED BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE ON JULY 18, 1933. UPON LEARNING THAT THERE WERE NO HEIRS AT LAW OR NEXT OF KIN TO WHOM THE ESTATE COULD BE DISTRIBUTED, THIS ADMINISTRATION, ON JANUARY 22, 1935, ADVISED MR. BRYSON THAT THE AWARD TO HIM WAS NOT IN ORDER AND REQUESTED IMMEDIATE RETURN OF THE CHECK. ADVICE WAS RECEIVED THAT THE ENTIRE ESTATE, CONSISTING OF A SUM SLIGHTLY IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT RECEIVED ON THE ADJUSTED-SERVICE CERTIFICATE, HAD BEEN DISTRIBUTED TO THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA UNDER AN ORDER OF DISTRIBUTION ENTERED BY THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY PROBATE COURT ON SEPTEMBER 13, 1934. THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, IN HIS OPINION OF MARCH 29, 1935, A COPY OF WHICH IS ENCLOSED, ADVISED THE COMPTROLLER OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, THAT HE, THE COMPTROLLER, HAD NO RIGHT TO RETURN TO THE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR THE MONEY RECEIVED BY HIM FROM THIS ADMINISTRATION WITHOUT A COURT ORDER INDICATING THAT SUCH MONEY HAD BEEN ERRONEOUSLY FORWARDED, AND SINCE THE TIME WITHIN WHICH SUCH A COURT ORDER MIGHT BE APPLIED FOR HAD EXPIRED, THIS AVENUE OF RELIEF WAS ENTIRELY CLOSED. HE ABSOLVED THE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR OF ANY PERSONAL LIABILITY ON THE THEORY THAT HE ACTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH AN ORDER ISSUED BY A COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION AND THAT THE ESTATE WAS DISTRIBUTED PURSUANT TO THE STATUTES OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA.

THE ACTION TAKEN IN THIS CASE, IN PAYING TO THE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR THE PROCEEDS OF THE ADJUSTED-SERVICE CERTIFICATE WHEN THERE WAS NO PERSON TO INHERIT FROM THE VETERAN, WAS NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH YOUR OPINION OF OCTOBER 10, 1928, A-24197, IN WHICH YOU APPLY TO ADJUSTED COMPENSATION THE ESTABLISHED RULE OF THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT, THAT NO PAYMENTS MAY BE MADE TO AN ADMINISTRATOR WHO HAS NO INTEREST IN THE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED, EITHER AS HEIR OR CREDITOR, OR AS THE REPRESENTATIVE OF HEIRS OR CREDITORS, AND YOU MAY DESIRE TO CAUSE AN ACTION AGAINST THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA TO BE INSTITUTED BY THE UNITED STATES TO RECOVER BACK THE FUND IN QUESTION OR, AS SUGGESTED IN THE ENCLOSED OPINION, SEEK RELIEF THROUGH ACTION OF THE LEGISLATURE.

I DEEM IT UNNECESSARY TO STATE THAT STEPS HAVE BEEN TAKEN TO PREVENT A RECURRENCE OF THE SITUATION PRESENTED BY THIS CASE.

THE FILE DISCLOSES THAT THE VETERAN WAS ISSUED AN ADJUSTED-SERVICE CERTIFICATE IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,127, EFFECTIVE APRIL 1, 1925, FOR WHICH HIS ESTATE WAS NAMED AS BENEFICIARY; THAT HE PROCURED LOANS ON THE CERTIFICATE WHICH, TOGETHER WITH INTEREST THEREON, AMOUNTED TO $630.31 AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH ON MAY 13, 1933; THAT FRANK BRYSON, PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR FOR LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, DULY QUALIFIED ON JUNE 1, 1933, AS THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE VETERAN'S ESTATE; THAT THE VETERAN LEFT PROPERTY OTHER THAN THAT DUE HIS ESTATE ON THE ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE; THAT THE AMOUNT DUE ON THE VETERAN'S ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE AFTER DEDUCTING LOANS AND INTEREST, NAMELY, $496.69, WAS PAID TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF HIS ESTATE, AND THAT AFTER ALL LEGAL CLAIMS AGAINST THE ESTATE WERE PAID THERE REMAINED IN THE ESTATE A SUM SLIGHTLY IN EXCESS OF THAT RECEIVED ON THE ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE, WHICH AMOUNT WAS TURNED OVER TO THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA BY THE ADMINISTRATOR PURSUANT TO A DECREE OF A COURT FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, DISTRIBUTING THE RESIDUE OF THE ESTATE.

IN DECISION OF JUNE 6, 1930, A-30716, IT WAS HELD AS FOLLOWS:

* * * THE RULE FOLLOWED BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES HAS BEEN UNIFORMLY THAT WHERE THE CLAIM AGAINST THE UNITED STATES IS THE SOLE ASSET THERE MUST BE A SHOWING OF HEIRS, CREDITORS, ETC., BEFORE PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM MAY BE ALLOWED, AND THAT SUCH PAYMENT WILL NOT BE ALLOWED WHERE THE SOLE RESULT WOULD BE AN ESCHEAT TO THE STATE. THE INSTANT MATTER DIFFERS IN THAT APPARENTLY THERE ARE OTHER ASSETS OF THE DECEDENT THAN THE WAGES DUE FROM THE UNITED STATES WHICH REQUIRE ADMINISTRATION. THERE CAN BE NO QUESTION THAT WAGES DUE AN EMPLOYEE ARE AN ASSET OF HIS ESTATE AND ARE NOT IN THE NATURE OF A GRATUITY, PAYMENT OF WHICH MAY BE MADE ONLY TO THE INDIVIDUAL. SEE BORCHERLING V. UNITED STATES, 185 U.S. 232 (1901). I BELIEVE IT PROPER TO STATE THE RULE THAT WHERE A DECEDENT'S ESTATE SHOWS OTHER ASSETS THAN THE CLAIM AGAINST THE UNITED STATES, PAYMENT OF WHAT IS DUE FROM THE UNITED STATES MAY BE MADE TO AN EXECUTOR OR ADMINISTRATOR DULY APPOINTED AND QUALIFIED. THE ACCOUNTING RULE WILL BE FOLLOWED AS HERETOFORE AND AS CLARIFIED IN THIS PARTICULAR. * * *

THIS RULE, IN AMPLIFICATION OF THE GENERAL RULE ANNOUNCED IN THE DECISION OF OCTOBER 10, 1928, 8 COMP. GEN. 172, CITED BY YOU, HAS SUBSEQUENTLY BEEN APPLIED IN THE PREAUDIT OF WORLD WAR ADJUSTED COMPENSATION AWARDS ON THE BASIS THAT THE PROCEEDS OF AN ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A GRATUITY. AWARDS IN FAVOR OF A PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR HAVE BEEN CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT WHERE ASSETS OF THE ESTATE WERE SHOWN TO EXIST OTHER THAN THE PROCEEDS OF THE CERTIFICATE, AND THERE WERE CLAIMS AGAINST THE ESTATE TO BE ADJUDICATED, THERE BEING NO AUTHORITY IN THE GOVERNMENT TO WITHHOLD FROM THE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR THE PROCEEDS OF THE CERTIFICATE WHICH WOULD BE AS LIABLE FOR THE DEBTS AGAINST THE ESTATE AS OTHER ASSETS.

IT WAS PURSUANT TO THIS RULE THAT THIS OFFICE, IN THE INSTANT CASE, CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT THE ADMINISTRATIVELY APPROVED AWARD IN FAVOR OF FRANK BRYSON, PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.

YOU ARE ADVISED, THEREFORE, THAT NO FURTHER ACTION IN THIS CASE BY THIS OFFICE IS AUTHORIZED OR REQUIRED.