A-86530, JUNE 16, 1937, 16 COMP. GEN. 1080

A-86530: Jun 16, 1937

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WHERE THE PARTICULAR DEPOSIT WAS FOR THE SPECIFIED PURPOSE OF PAYING BURIAL EXPENSES OF THE INMATE. THERE IS NO OBJECTION TO THE USE OF NOT TO EXCEED $50 OF THE BALANCE REMAINING AFTER PAYMENT OF THE FUNERAL EXPENSES FOR THE PURCHASE AND PLACING OF A HEADSTONE OR GRAVE MARKER. AS FOLLOWS: REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE CASE OF MR. WHO WAS ADMITTED TO SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL FROM THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ON MAY 1. THIS AMOUNT WAS UNDERSTOOD TO BE THE REMAINDER OF AN ESTATE TO WHICH MR. JOHN FLAVIN WAS ENTITLED. IT WAS NECESSARY TO ARRANGE BURIAL IN THE HOSPITAL CEMETERY. WHICH WAS CONSUMMATED ON THE MORNING OF MAY 5. AFTER PAYMENT OF THE BURIAL EXPENSES THERE WILL BE SUFFICIENT FUNDS REMAINING FOR THE PURCHASE OF A GRAVESTONE OR MARKER.

A-86530, JUNE 16, 1937, 16 COMP. GEN. 1080

BURIAL EXPENSES - SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL INMATES - USE OF PRIVATE FUNDS FOR GRAVE MARKER AND HOSPITAL CEMETERY MAINTENANCE THE PRIVATE FUNDS OF AN INMATE OF SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, OTHER THAN THOSE OF PENSIONERS, RECEIVED BY AND IN THE OFFICIAL CUSTODY OF THE HOSPITAL ESCHEAT TO THE UNITED STATES UPON THE DEATH OF THE INMATE WITHOUT HEIRS, AND MAY NOT BE USED FOR THE MAINTENANCE OF THE HOSPITAL OR GROUNDS, BUT, WHERE THE PARTICULAR DEPOSIT WAS FOR THE SPECIFIED PURPOSE OF PAYING BURIAL EXPENSES OF THE INMATE, THERE IS NO OBJECTION TO THE USE OF NOT TO EXCEED $50 OF THE BALANCE REMAINING AFTER PAYMENT OF THE FUNERAL EXPENSES FOR THE PURCHASE AND PLACING OF A HEADSTONE OR GRAVE MARKER.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, JUNE 16, 1937:

YOUR LETTER OF MAY 26, 1937, REQUESTS DECISION UPON THE QUESTIONS PRESENTED IN LETTER DATED MAY 5, 1937, FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT OF ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, AS FOLLOWS:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE CASE OF MR. JOHN FLAVIN, WHO WAS ADMITTED TO SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL FROM THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ON MAY 1, 1882, TO RECEIVE CARE AND TREATMENT FOR MENTAL DISORDER, AND WHO DIED HERE APRIL 28, 1937, LEAVING NO KNOWN RELATIVES.

OUR RECORDS CONTAIN REFERENCE TO THE DEPOSIT OF FUNDS, $200.00, BY THE PATIENT'S FORMER COMMITTEE, MR. FREDERICK A. FANNING, IN 1927, FOR BURIAL EXPENSES. THIS AMOUNT WAS UNDERSTOOD TO BE THE REMAINDER OF AN ESTATE TO WHICH MR. JOHN FLAVIN WAS ENTITLED.

UNDERTAKER NORVAL K. TABLER HAD BEEN DESIGNATED TO TAKE CHARGE OF THE BURIAL, IN THE EVENT OF THE PATIENT'S DEATH WHILE HERE, AND THERE BEING NO GRAVE SITE AVAILABLE IN A PRIVATE CEMETERY, NOR ANY RELATIVE TO TAKE TITLE TO SUCH A BURIAL SITE IN THE EVENT OF ITS PURCHASE FROM FUNDS TO THE PATIENT'S CREDIT HERE, IT WAS NECESSARY TO ARRANGE BURIAL IN THE HOSPITAL CEMETERY, WHICH WAS CONSUMMATED ON THE MORNING OF MAY 5, 1937, UNDER THE DIRECTION OF MR. NORVAL K. TABLER.

AFTER PAYMENT OF THE BURIAL EXPENSES THERE WILL BE SUFFICIENT FUNDS REMAINING FOR THE PURCHASE OF A GRAVESTONE OR MARKER.

TWO QUESTIONS ARE, THEREFORE, PRESENTED FOR CONSIDERATION: FIRST, WHETHER OR NOT IT WILL BE PROPER TO EXPEND A PORTION, NOT MORE THAN $40.00, FOR EXAMPLE, OF THE FUNDS REMAINING TO MR. FLAVIN'S CREDIT HERE, FOR THE PURCHASE AND ERECTION OF A GRAVE MARKER AT THE GRAVE OF THE DECEASED; AND, SECOND, WHETHER OR NOT ANY BALANCE THEN REMAINING TO HIS CREDIT HERE MAY BE TAKEN BY THE HOSPITAL THROUGH THE PROPER CHANNELS FOR CREDIT TO THE FUND FOR MAINTENANCE AND UPKEEP OF OUR HOSPITAL CEMETERY IN WHICH THE PATIENT IS BURIED.

A DECISION ON THESE TWO QUESTIONS AT YOUR CONVENIENCE WILL BE MUCH APPRECIATED.

UNDER SECTION 4839, REVISED STATUTES, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 2, 1909, 35 STAT. 592, FUNDS BELONGING TO INMATES MAY BE DRAWN UPON FOR "THE USE OF SUCH INMATES.' THE ACT OF JUNE 30, 1906, 34 STAT. 730, REQUIRES THAT ALL MONEYS BELONGING TO DECEASED INMATES OF ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL (OTHER THAN PENSIONERS) BE DEPOSITED IN THE TREASURY UNLESS CLAIMED BY THE INMATES' LEGAL HEIRS WITHIN 5 YEARS FROM THE DEATH OF THE INMATE. IN OTHER WORDS, UNDER THESE STATUTES THE PRIVATE FUNDS OF AN INMATE RECEIVED BY AND IN CUSTODY OF THE DISBURSING AGENT OF THE HOSPITAL ESCHEAT TO THE UNITED STATES UPON THE DEATH OF THE INMATE WITHOUT HEIRS, BUT IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY THEREFOR THEY MAY NOT BE USED FOR THE MAINTENANCE OF THE HOSPITAL OR THE GROUNDS.

HOWEVER, SINCE THE DEPOSIT OF THE $200 WAS FOR THE SPECIFIED PURPOSE OF PAYING BURIAL EXPENSES OF THE INMATE AND AS THE EXPENSE OF ERECTING A HEADSTONE OR GRAVE MARKER IS GENERALLY RECOGNIZED BY THE COURTS AS A PART OF THE BURIAL EXPENSES, THIS OFFICE WILL NOT BE REQUIRED TO OBJECT TO THE USE OF NOT TO EXCEED $50 OF THE UNEXPENDED BURIAL FUND FOR THE PURCHASE AND PLACING OF A HEADSTONE OR A GRAVE MARKER. ANY BALANCE REMAINING, HOWEVER, SHOULD BE COVERED INTO THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES AS A MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPT IF NOT CLAIMED BY LEGAL HEIRS OF THE INMATE WITHIN 5 YEARS FROM THE DATE OF DEATH OF THE INMATE.