B-116586, AUGUST 28, 1953, 33 COMP. GEN. 99

B-116586: Aug 28, 1953

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DECEDENTS ESTATES - UNNEGOTIATED CHECKS - PAYMENT PROCEDURE A CHECK ISSUED IN PAYMENT OF A GOVERNMENT OBLIGATION PURSUANT TO STATUTE OR CONTRACT DOES NOT CONSTITUTE PAYMENT UNLESS THE CHECK IS NEGOTIATED. THEREFORE AN UNNEGOTIATED COMPENSATION CHECK DRAWN IN FAVOR OF A PAYEE PRIOR TO DEATH MAY NOT BE PAID TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF HIS ESTATE BUT IS FOR DISPOSITION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ACT OF AUGUST 3. 1953: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED JULY 18. THE DISALLOWANCE WAS FOR THE REASON THAT THE DECEDENT IS SURVIVED BY A SON. WHO IS ENTITLED TO ANY FUNDS DUE THE DECEDENT UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF PUBLIC LAW 636. IT APPEARS THE UNPAID CHECKS DRAWN IN FAVOR OF THE DECEASED PRIOR TO HIS DEATH AMOUNTING TO $183.65 ARE PAYABLE TO YOU AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED.

B-116586, AUGUST 28, 1953, 33 COMP. GEN. 99

DECEDENTS ESTATES - UNNEGOTIATED CHECKS - PAYMENT PROCEDURE A CHECK ISSUED IN PAYMENT OF A GOVERNMENT OBLIGATION PURSUANT TO STATUTE OR CONTRACT DOES NOT CONSTITUTE PAYMENT UNLESS THE CHECK IS NEGOTIATED, EXCEPT WHEN THE STATUTE OR CONTRACT EXPRESSLY PROVIDES OTHERWISE, AND THEREFORE AN UNNEGOTIATED COMPENSATION CHECK DRAWN IN FAVOR OF A PAYEE PRIOR TO DEATH MAY NOT BE PAID TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF HIS ESTATE BUT IS FOR DISPOSITION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ACT OF AUGUST 3, 1950, WHICH PROVIDES FOR THE SETTLEMENT OF ACCOUNTS OF DECEASED CIVILIAN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT AND MAKES NO EXCEPTION TO THE RULE REGARDING UNPAID CHECKS OF DECEASED PAYEES.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO ADMINISTRATOR GENERAL FOR JAMAICA, JAMAICA, BRITISH WEST INDIES, AUGUST 28, 1953:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED JULY 18, 1953, RELATIVE TO GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE SETTLEMENT DATED MAY 21, 1953, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR AN AMOUNT ALLEGED TO BE DUE AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF HERMAN JACKSON, DECEASED, FORMER, EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY, UNITED STATES NAVAL OPERATING BASE, GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA. THE DISALLOWANCE WAS FOR THE REASON THAT THE DECEDENT IS SURVIVED BY A SON, WHO IS ENTITLED TO ANY FUNDS DUE THE DECEDENT UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF PUBLIC LAW 636, APPROVED AUGUST 3, 1950, 64 STAT. 395.

IN YOUR LETTER YOU STATE THAT, AT LEAST, IT APPEARS THE UNPAID CHECKS DRAWN IN FAVOR OF THE DECEASED PRIOR TO HIS DEATH AMOUNTING TO $183.65 ARE PAYABLE TO YOU AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED. IT WILL BE NOTED THAT THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF THE CLAIM COMPRISES ONLY THE CHECKS IN QUESTION WHICH ARE SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED BY YOU IN STANDARD CLAIM FORM NO. 1055, AND WHEREIN YOU SHOW, IN ADDITION TO A SON, THAT THE DECEASED WAS SURVIVED BY HIS MOTHER, TWO BROTHERS, AND A SISTER.

THE ACT OF AUGUST 3, 1950, SUPRA, PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

FIRST, TO THE BENEFICIARY OR BENEFICIARIES DESIGNATED BY THE OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IN WRITING TO RECEIVE SUCH COMPENSATION FILED WITH THE GOVERNMENT AGENCY IN WHICH THE OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE WAS EMPLOYED AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH, AND RECEIVED BY SUCH AGENCY PRIOR TO THE OFFICER'S OR EMPLOYEE'S DEATH;

SECOND, IF THERE BE NO SUCH BENEFICIARY, TO THE WIDOW OR WIDOWER OF SUCH OFFICER, OR EMPLOYEE;

THIRD, IF THERE BE NO BENEFICIARY OR SURVIVING SPOUSE, TO THE CHILD OR CHILDREN OF SUCH OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE, AND DESCENDANTS OF DECEASED CHILDREN, BY REPRESENTATION;

FOURTH, IF NONE OF THE ABOVE, TO THE PARENTS OF SUCH OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE, OR THE SURVIVOR OF THEM;

FIFTH, IF THERE BE NONE OF THE ABOVE, TO THE DULY APPOINTED LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE, OR IF THERE BE NONE, TO THE PERSON OR PERSONS DETERMINED TO BE ENTITLED THERETO UNDER THE LAWS OF THE DOMICILE OF THE DECEASED OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE.

AN EXAMINATION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE RECORDS FORWARDED TO THIS OFFICE FOR CONSIDERATION IN THE DISPOSITION OF THE CLAIM SUPPORTS THE SETTLEMENT AS STATED ON MAY 21, 1953. THEREFORE, IT MUST BE CONCLUDED THAT DISPOSITION OF THE FUNDS DUE THE FORMER EMPLOYEE AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH FALLS WITHIN THE ABOVE-QUOTED THIRD STEP IN THE ORDER OF PRECEDENCE, SINCE THE RECORDS FAIL TO ESTABLISH THAT THE FORMER EMPLOYEE DESIGNATED A BENEFICIARY.

IN RESPECT OF THE NON-NEGOTIATION OF THE CHECKS IN QUESTION, THE RULE HAS BEEN DEFINITELY STATED TIME AND AGAIN BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT THAT A CHECK ISSUED IN PAYMENT OF A GOVERNMENT OBLIGATION PURSUANT TO STATUTE OR CONTRACT DOES NOT CONSTITUTE PAYMENT UNLESS AND UNTIL THE CHECK IS NEGOTIATED, EXCEPT WHEN THE STATUTE OR CONTRACT EXPRESSLY PROVIDES OTHERWISE. THE STATUTE HERE INVOLVED IS THE GENERAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT APPROVED SEPTEMBER 6, 1950, 64 STAT. 745, AND IT MAKES NO SUCH EXCEPTION.

ACCORDINGLY, ON THE BASIS OF THE FOREGOING, THE ACTION TAKEN BY THIS OFFICE IN THE SETTLEMENT OF MAY 21, 1953, IS SUSTAINED. HOWEVER, UPON RECEIPT OF A CLAIM BY THE SURVIVING SON, INCLUDING THE NECESSARY IDENTIFICATION, FINAL DISPOSITION WILL BE MADE IN THE MATTER.