B-163551, APR. 1, 1968

B-163551: Apr 1, 1968

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ENGSTROM: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED JANUARY 25. WAS TRANSFERRED . SOUGHT TO HAVE THE MONEY PAID TO HIM. ON BEING ADVISED THAT THIS WAS NOT POSSIBLE. STEPS WERE TAKEN TO HAVE HER DECLARED DEAD AND ON NOVEMBER 22. HIS CLAIM AND SUPPORTING PAPERS WERE FORWARDED TO THIS OFFICE BY LETTER DATED JULY 25. THE CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED BECAUSE IT WAS NOT RECEIVED WITHIN THE FIVE-YEAR LIMITATION PERIOD IMPOSED BY LAW. NOR UNTIL ONE YEAR AFTER THE DATE WHEN THE PROPERTY IS RECEIVED AT A STORAGE POINT DESIGNATED BY THE SECRETARY. IS DETERMINED BUT NOT FOUND. THERE WAS NO PROVISION FOR THE DISPOSAL OF LOST OR ABANDONED EFFECTS OF A PERSON WHOSE WHEREABOUTS WAS UNKNOWN AND SUCH PROPERTY WAS REQUIRED TO BE HELD IN STORAGE FOR AN INDEFINITE PERIOD OF TIME.

B-163551, APR. 1, 1968

TO MR. CARL A. ENGSTROM:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED JANUARY 25, 1968, IN EFFECT REQUESTING REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT OF OUR CLAIMS DIVISION DATED OCTOBER 10, 1967, WHICH DISALLOWED THE CLAIM OF H. L. BLACK LEDGE, AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF FLORENCE H. ENGSTROM, DECEASED, FOR THE PROCEEDS OF THE SALE OF HER PERSONAL PROPERTY LEFT IN THE POSSESSION OF THE NAVY DEPARTMENT.

THE RECORD DISCLOSES THAT THE AMOUNT OF $595.61, REPRESENTING THE PROCEEDS OF THE SALES OF LOST, ABANDONED, OR UNCLAIMED PERSONAL PROPERTY OF LIEUTENANT COMMANDER FLORENCE H. ENGSTROM, UNITED STATES NAVY, WAS TRANSFERRED -- FROM THE ACCOUNT IN WHICH THAT SUM HAD BEEN ON DEPOSIT FOR FIVE FULL FISCAL YEARS FROM THE DATES OF SUCH SALES -- TO THE GENERAL FUND OF THE TREASURY IN NOVEMBER 1964, AND CREDITED TO RECEIPT ACCOUNT, 171060, FORFEITURES OF UNCLAIMED MONEY AND PROPERTY.

UNDER DATE OF DECEMBER 3, 1964, THE U.S. NAVY FINANCE CENTER ADDRESSED A LETTER TO MISS FLORENCE H. ENGSTROM CONCERNING THE PROCEEDS FROM THE SALES OF HER PROPERTY. ON JANUARY 7, 1965, YOUR BROTHER, GEORGE ENGSTROM, SOUGHT TO HAVE THE MONEY PAID TO HIM. ON BEING ADVISED THAT THIS WAS NOT POSSIBLE, STEPS WERE TAKEN TO HAVE HER DECLARED DEAD AND ON NOVEMBER 22, 1966, H. L. BLACK LEDGE FILED CLAIM AS ADMINISTRATOR OF HER ESTATE. HIS CLAIM AND SUPPORTING PAPERS WERE FORWARDED TO THIS OFFICE BY LETTER DATED JULY 25, 1967, RECEIVED HERE ON JULY 27, 1967. THE CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED BECAUSE IT WAS NOT RECEIVED WITHIN THE FIVE-YEAR LIMITATION PERIOD IMPOSED BY LAW. YOU SAY THAT YOUR BROTHER FILED CLAIM IMMEDIATELY UPON BEING ADVISED OF THE CLAIM OF THE DECEDENT AND THAT SINCE IT REQUIRES SEVEN YEARS FOR A PERSON TO BE DECLARED LEGALLY DEAD, IT SEEMS UNREASONABLE THAT THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD TURN DOWN A CLAIM THAT HAS NOT BEEN MADE WITHIN FIVE YEARS.

THE ACT OF APRIL 14, 1949, CH. 50, 63 STAT. 44, 45, CODIFIED BY THE ACT OF AUGUST 10, 1956, CH. 1041, 70A STAT. 144, AS 10 U.S.C. 2575, PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

"/A) THE SECRETARY OF ANY MILITARY DEPARTMENT, AND THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, UNDER SUCH REGULATIONS AS THEY MAY RESPECTIVELY PRESCRIBE, MAY EACH BY PUBLIC OR PRIVATE SALE OR OTHERWISE, DISPOSE OF ALL LOST, ABANDONED, OR UNCLAIMED PERSONAL PROPERTY THAT COMES INTO THE CUSTODY OR CONTROL OF HIS DEPARTMENT, OTHER THAN PROPERTY SUBJECT TO SECTION 4712, 4713, 6522, 9712, OR 9713 OF THIS TITLE OR SUBJECT TO SUBSECTION (C) OF THIS SECTION. HOWEVER, PROPERTY MAY NOT BE DISPOSED OF UNTIL DILIGENT EFFORT HAS BEEN MADE TO FIND THE OWNER, HIS HEIRS OR NEXT OF KIN, OR HIS LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE, NOR UNTIL ONE YEAR AFTER THE DATE WHEN THE PROPERTY IS RECEIVED AT A STORAGE POINT DESIGNATED BY THE SECRETARY. IF THE OWNER, HIS HEIRS OR NEXT OF KIN, OR HIS LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE, IS DETERMINED BUT NOT FOUND, THE PROPERTY MAY NOT BE DISPOSED OF UNTIL THE EXPIRATION OF 120 DAYS AFTER THE DATE WHEN NOTICE, GIVING THE TIME AND PLACE OF THE INTENDED SALE OR OTHER DISPOSITION, HAS BEEN SENT BY REGISTERED MAIL TO THAT PERSON AT HIS LAST KNOWN ADDRESS.

"/B) THE NET PROCEEDS FROM THE SALE OF PROPERTY UNDER THIS SECTION SHALL BE COVERED INTO THE TREASURY AS MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPTS. THE OWNER, HIS HEIRS OR NEXT OF KIN, OR HIS LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE MAY FILE A CLAIM FOR THOSE PROCEEDS WITH THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WITHIN FIVE YEARS AFTER THE DATE OF THE DISPOSAL OF THE PROPERTY. IF NOT FILED WITHIN THAT PERIOD, SUCH A CLAIM MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED BY A COURT OR THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE.'

PRIOR TO THE 1949 ACT, EXCEPT FOR THE PROPERTY OF DECEASED MILITARY PERSONNEL, THERE WAS NO PROVISION FOR THE DISPOSAL OF LOST OR ABANDONED EFFECTS OF A PERSON WHOSE WHEREABOUTS WAS UNKNOWN AND SUCH PROPERTY WAS REQUIRED TO BE HELD IN STORAGE FOR AN INDEFINITE PERIOD OF TIME. THE PURPOSE OF THE ACT WAS TO PROVIDE AUTHORITY FOR THE ORDERLY DISPOSAL OF SUCH PROPERTY IN ORDER TO CONSERVE STORAGE SPACE AND TO RELIEVE THE GOVERNMENT FROM RETAINING FUNDS LONG AFTER THERE WAS ANY LIKELIHOOD THAT CLAIMS THEREFORE WOULD BE MADE.

THE RECORD DOES NOT DISCLOSE THE EXACT DATES OF THE SALES OF THE PROPERTY OF THE DECEASED, NOR THE ATTEMPTS WHICH WERE MADE TO LOCATE HER OR HER HEIRS BEFORE THE SALES WERE ACCOMPLISHED. HOWEVER, IT IS SHOWN THAT THE PROCEEDS OF THE SALES REMAINED ON DEPOSIT IN THE APPROPRIATE TRUST FUND FOR OVER FIVE YEARS BEFORE THE LETTER OF DECEMBER 3, 1964 (COPY OF WHICH WAS FORWARDED WITH YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 25, 1968), WAS ADDRESSED TO HER BY THE U.S. NAVY FINANCE CENTER. THEREFORE, ANY CLAIM FILED IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE AFTER THAT TIME WOULD HAVE BEEN TOO LATE. WHILE IT IS UNFORTUNATE THAT THE LETTER OF DECEMBER 3, 1964, WAS NOT WRITTEN AT AN EARLIER DATE, WE HAVE NO INFORMATION AS TO THE REASON FOR THE DELAY.

UNDER THE PLAIN TERMS OF THE STATUTE, A CLAIM FOR THE PROCEEDS OF SALE NOT FILED WITH THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WITHIN FIVE YEARS AFTER THE DATE OF DISPOSAL OF THE PROPERTY MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED BY A COURT OR THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE. NO MATTER HOW MERITORIOUS A BARRED CLAIM MAY BE THIS OFFICE MAY MAKE NO EXCEPTION TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE STATUTE NOR MAY ANY EXTENSION OF TIME BE GRANTED WITHIN WHICH CLAIMS MAY BE FILED IN THIS OFFICE. THUS CONSIDERATION OF THE CLAIM OF THE ADMINISTRATOR, OR OF THE HEIRS OR NEXT OF KIN OF THE DECEASED,IS PROHIBITED BY LAW.

THERE BEING NO ACTION WHICH WE LEGALLY MAY TAKE IN THE MATTER, THE SETTLEMENT OF OCTOBER 10, 1967, IS SUSTAINED.