A-88724, SEPTEMBER 9, 1937, 17 COMP. GEN. 230

A-88724: Sep 9, 1937

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

WITHOUT SPECIFICATION AS TO THE AMOUNT SHE WAS TO RECEIVE. THE REASONABLE PRESUMPTION BEING THAT THE ANNUITANT WOULD NOT HAVE NEGATIVED HIS FIRST DESIGNATION BY ANOTHER DESIGNATION MADE AT THE SAME TIME AND IN THE SAME FORM. IS AS FOLLOWS: ROBERT THURSTON BAIN. WAS GRANTED ANNUITY AT THE RATE OF $1. WHICH DESIGNATION WAS RECEIVED IN THE COMMISSION NOVEMBER 27. A DUPLICATE COPY OF WHICH IS ENCLOSED. IT WILL BE NOTED THAT THE DESIGNATOR NAMED HIS WIFE. WITHOUT SPECIFICATION AS TO THE AMOUNT SHE WAS TO RECEIVE. THE UNEXPENDED BALANCE OF $850.40 AND ACCRUED ANNUITY OF $70.00 WAS AWARDED BY THE COMMISSION TO HER. THE VOUCHER CARRYING THIS AWARD WAS RETURNED BY THE CHIEF DISBURSING OFFICER.

A-88724, SEPTEMBER 9, 1937, 17 COMP. GEN. 230

DECEDENTS, ESTATES OF--- CIVILIAN RETIREMENT FUND CREDITS--- CONFLICTING BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS--- PAYMENT DETERMINATION WHERE A RETIRED CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE, IN DISPOSING OF SUMS REMAINING TO HIS CREDIT IN THE RETIREMENT FUND AT HIS DEATH, DESIGNATES, IN THE FORM PROVIDED THEREFOR, HIS WIFE AS BENEFICIARY, WITHOUT SPECIFICATION AS TO THE AMOUNT SHE WAS TO RECEIVE, AND THREE OTHER PERSONS AS BENEFICIARIES, EACH TO RECEIVE ONE-THIRD OF THE TOTAL AMOUNT DUE, THE INTENTION OF THE DECEDENT MUST GOVERN, AND THE REASONABLE PRESUMPTION BEING THAT THE ANNUITANT WOULD NOT HAVE NEGATIVED HIS FIRST DESIGNATION BY ANOTHER DESIGNATION MADE AT THE SAME TIME AND IN THE SAME FORM, PAYMENT OF THE ENTIRE AMOUNT REMAINING AT DATE OF DEATH MAY BE MADE TO THE SURVIVING WIDOW, THE OTHER DESIGNATIONS BEING REGARDED AS ALTERNATES.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, SEPTEMBER 9, 1937:

YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 31, 1937, IS AS FOLLOWS:

ROBERT THURSTON BAIN, FORMER LOCAL INSPECTOR OF HULLS, STEAMBOAT INSPECTION SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, RETIRED FROM SERVICE JANUARY 31, 1933, AND WAS GRANTED ANNUITY AT THE RATE OF $1,200 PER ANNUM, EFFECTIVE FEBRUARY 1, 1933.

ON NOVEMBER 13, 1934, HE FORWARDED TO THE COMMISSION EXECUTED FORM 2806- 1, DISPOSING OF ANY SUMS REMAINING TO HIS CREDIT IN THE RETIREMENT FUND AT DEATH AS PROVIDED BY SECTION 12 OF THE CIVIL SERVICE RETIREMENT ACT OF MAY 29, 1930, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF JUNE 22, 1934, WHICH DESIGNATION WAS RECEIVED IN THE COMMISSION NOVEMBER 27, 1934, A DUPLICATE COPY OF WHICH IS ENCLOSED.

IT WILL BE NOTED THAT THE DESIGNATOR NAMED HIS WIFE, ANNE FULLER BAIN, AS BENEFICIARY, WITHOUT SPECIFICATION AS TO THE AMOUNT SHE WAS TO RECEIVE. HE ALSO NAMED JOHN MCCROSSON, BROTHER-IN-LAW, AND ISABEL AND DORIS MAE MCCROSSON, SISTERS-IN-LAW, AS BENEFICIARIES, SPECIFYING THAT EACH SHOULD RECEIVE ONE-THIRD OF THE TOTAL AMOUNT DUE.

IN CONSTRUING THIS DESIGNATION, THE COMMISSION DETERMINED THAT MR. BAIN INTENDED HIS WIFE TO BE THE SOLE BENEFICIARY, IF ALIVE AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH, THE BROTHER-IN-LAW AND SISTERS-IN-LAW BEING ALTERNATE BENEFICIARIES ONLY.

MR. BAIN DIED ON MAY 21, 1937, AND UPON RECEIPT OF PROPER CLAIM BY HIS WIDOW, ANNE FULLER BAIN, THE UNEXPENDED BALANCE OF $850.40 AND ACCRUED ANNUITY OF $70.00 WAS AWARDED BY THE COMMISSION TO HER. HOWEVER, THE VOUCHER CARRYING THIS AWARD WAS RETURNED BY THE CHIEF DISBURSING OFFICER, TREASURY DEPARTMENT, WITH LETTER DATED AUGUST 9, 1937, READING AS FOLLOWS:

"THERE IS RETURNED HEREWITH YOUR VOUCHER, SCHEDULE NO. R-5877, TOTAL AMOUNT CERTIFIED $15,464.15.

"REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE CASE OF ROBERT T. BAIN, ON WHICH PAYMENT IS BEING CERTIFIED TO ANNE FULLER BAIN IN THE AMOUNT OF $920.40. IT WILL BE NOTED THAT THE VOUCHER HAS NOT BEEN PREPARED IN ACCORDANCE WITH FORM 2806- 1 (DESIGNATION OF BENEFICIARY), WHICH ALSO SHOWS THREE OTHER PERSONS AS BENEFICIARIES.

"SHOULD THIS VOUCHER BE RETURNED FOR PAYMENT AS NOW PREPARED, IT IS CALLED TO YOUR ATTENTION THAT THE DIVISION OF DISBURSEMENT WILL HOLD THE CERTIFYING OFFICER RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DISALLOWANCE WHICH MIGHT RESULT IN AUDIT BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE.'

IN VIEW OF THE CONFLICTING OPINIONS REGARDING THE DESIGNATION OF BENEFICIARY, YOUR DECISION IS REQUESTED REGARDING THE PROPER DISPOSITION OF THE AMOUNT DUE IN THIS CASE.

AS IN OTHER CLASSES OF CASES INVOLVING THE DETERMINATION OF A BENEFICIARY OR BENEFICIARIES DESIGNATED TO RECEIVE A DEATH BENEFIT, THE PRIMARY FACTOR IS THE INTENTION OF THE DECEDENT. THE SETTLED RULE IN SUCH CASES IS THAT THE INTENTION OF THE DECEDENT MUST BE GIVEN EFFECT IF REASONABLY POSSIBLE, AND TO THAT END APPARENTLY CONFLICTING ACTIONS BY THE DECEDENT SHOULD BE RECONCILED.

THE FACT THAT THE ANNUITANT IN THE INSTANT CASE DESIGNATED HIS WIFE -- THE MOST LIKELY PERSON FOR WHOM HE WOULD WISH TO MAKE PROVISION--- AS A SINGLE BENEFICIARY IN THE SPACE PROVIDED FOR DESIGNATION OF ONE BENEFICIARY, INDICATES THAT HE INTENDED HER TO RECEIVE THE ENTIRE AMOUNT. THE FACT THAT HE DESIGNATED THREE OTHER BENEFICIARIES IN THE SPACE PROVIDED FOR DESIGNATION OF MORE THAN ONE BENEFICIARY TO RECEIVE THE ENTIRE AMOUNT IN EQUAL SHARES--- AN ACTION ON ITS FACE INCONSISTENT WITH HIS FIRST DESIGNATION--- INDICATES AN INTENTION THAT THESE BENEFICIARIES WERE NAMED AS ALTERNATES, THE REASONABLE PRESUMPTION BEING THAT THE ANNUITANT WOULD NOT HAVE NEGATIVED HIS FIRST DESIGNATION BY ANOTHER DESIGNATION IN THE SAME FORM.

ACCORDINGLY, CREDIT WILL BE ALLOWED BY THIS OFFICE IN THE ACCOUNTS OF THE PROPER DISBURSING OFFICER FOR PAYMENT OF THE ENTIRE AMOUNT INVOLVED TO ANNE FULLER BAIN, WIFE OF THE DECEDENT, IN THE ABSENCE OF OTHER OBJECTION.