The opinion of the court was delivered by: Platt, Chief Judge.
This suit originated as an interpleader under 28 U.S.C. § 1335.
On October 3, 1938, plaintiff, Sun Life Assurance
Company of Canada, a Canadian corporation, issued a policy No.
1,573,403 upon the life of Mrs. Fanny Drennan in the amount of
$8,000. She died at Urbana, Illinois on February 20, 1958. Her
surviving husband, Clarence Abraham Hoy, a citizen of Illinois,
and her brother, Paul R. Stockdale, a citizen of Indiana, each
claimed the proceeds of the policy. The determination of their
respective claims hinges upon the validity of the document
dated February 19, 1958 which purports to change the
beneficiary of the policy from Hoy to Stockdale, and upon an
oral antenuptial agreement which, is alleged by Hoy to have
existed, and to have created a disability on the part of the
decedent to change her beneficiary. Plaintiff has paid into the
registry of this court, the amount of $8,000, and on July 23,
1958, an order was entered discharging it from further
When the policy was first issued Paul R. Stockdale was the
beneficiary. The right to change beneficiary was reserved. On
July 23, 1943, the beneficiary on the policy was changed to
"Thomas Jefferson Smith, My Husband." Upon the death of Mr.
Smith, Fanny D. Smith, under date of July 24, 1949, sent
plaintiff a change of beneficiary to Paul R. Stockdale, which
was endorsed upon the policy.
On June 18, 1950, assured being about the age of 55 years,
and having no children, was married at Loda, Illinois to
claimant, Clarence Abraham Hoy, who being about 65 years of
age, had children by a former marriage. At the time of her
marriage, Mrs. Hoy owned about $10,000 worth of government
savings bonds, and the policy here involved. The defendant,
Mr. Hoy, owned a 1947 Packard automobile, with one or two
payments yet due, a small savings account, a small checking
account, and some insurance policies on his own life.
Hoy testified that early in 1950 he had several
conversations with his intended wife; that they spoke about
"having life incomes of so much and neither one had a home;
that it would take both of us to make a home; that she felt as
though to have a home she would have to have someone with her,
and I felt the same way; and we agreed that a marriage would
be all right, with the exceptions to buying a home I didn't
have the ready cash to make a down payment on a home. She
says, `I've got money enough to make the down payment and that
would buy us a home' * * *. Then when we begun to get things
together was when we agreed that we would take everything in
joint. It didn't make any difference which one it was. We had
one permit book, one bank account, and we agreed at that
conversation that we would change our policies. * * *
"The insurance policies of mine would be made payable to her
and that hers would be made payable to me."
August 1, 1950, Hoy effected a change in beneficiary upon
his policies to "Fanny Hoy, wife." August 5, 1950, the Hoys
opened a joint bank account in the Busey First National Bank
of Urbana, Illinois. Mrs. Hoy cashed some of her government
bonds and deposited a large portion of the proceeds into the
joint account. Mr. Hoy transferred his small savings and
checking accounts to the same joint account. He also caused
the title to his automobile to be similarly changed and when
they traded automobiles title was taken jointly each time. On
the same day, Mr. and Mrs. Hoy purchased residence property in
Urbana, Illinois, on a contract. A warranty deed made to the
Hoys in joint tenancy was held in escrow. The down payment was
provided from funds deposited in the joint checking account.
The monthly payments on the contract were also made from the
joint account into which the Hoys deposited their respective
incomes during the period of their marriage. Their incomes
were derived principally from rentals on apartments maintained
in the residence property, from Mrs. Hoy's services as a
Christian Science Practitioner in which her husband gave
assistance, from Mr. Hoy's wages as a baker, and later from
his social security payments.
October 6, 1950, Mrs. Hoy effected a change of beneficiary
on her policy to "my husband, Clarence Abraham Hoy." She also
cashed some of the $100 government bonds to cover the expenses
of vacation trips upon which she and her husband traveled
together. The remainder of the bonds which were payable to
"Fanny Smith," she kept uncashed. Premiums to maintain all the
insurance policies were paid from the joint account.
In January, 1956, after paying the balance of the purchase
price, the Hoys received the warranty deed to the Urbana
residence as joint tenants. They acquired the money to pay the
balance due by giving a note for the proper amount to the
Busey Bank. The note was signed by each in his and her own
right and as husband and wife, and a mortgage was executed
upon the premises to secure the note.
Toward the end of 1957, Mrs. Hoy became aware of the fact
that her health was impaired. Paul Stockdale testified that in
October, 1957, he had a conversation with his sister and she
told him the details of her funeral arrangements which she
wanted carried out; and that she wanted to change the
beneficiary on her insurance policy to him.
Sometime in January of 1958, Mrs. Hoy's condition became
worse and she was unable to do her work. Irma E. Pierson, a
practical nurse, was hired by Hoy to care for her in the home.
Mrs. Pierson testified that shortly after her arrival, Mrs.
Hoy told her on different occasions that she wanted to make
Paul beneficiary of her insurance policy but that Mr. Hoy did
not want her to, and that he became angry when it was
February 17, Mr. Hoy called Paul Stockdale's home to inform
him that Fanny's condition was bad, and he and his wife went
to Urbana the following day. Early in the morning of February
19, Mrs. Lorena Reed came to spend the day with Mrs. Hoy. She
had met Mrs. Hoy through the latter's work as a practitioner,
and through Mr. Hoy whom she had known all her life. Mrs. Reed
testified that Mrs. Hoy was uncomfortable, uneasy, and
answered questions but did not converse. She further testified
that when certain government savings bonds were brought in by
Mr. Hoy for Fanny to sign, that she asked Fanny, in the
presence of Mr. Hoy and Paul Stockdale if she wanted to sign
those bonds, and Fanny made it clear that she did, and that
she wanted the $1,000 bond to go to her niece, Paul
Stockdale's daughter, to further her musical education. She
supported Mrs. Hoy while the latter signed "Fanny Smith" and
then "Fanny Hoy." Hoy and Stockdale then took the endorsed
bonds to the bank and had them cashed. On the $1,000 bond a
draft for $920 was made payable to Paul Stockdale, for his
minor daughter. Mr. Hoy received the proceeds from the two
bonds, which he deposited in the joint account.
During the afternoon of February 19, Mrs. Rosalie Jordan and
her daughter, Pat Jordan, came to the Hoy home, and about 4
p.m. Mrs. Pauline Weber arrived. All were friends of Mrs. Hoy.
Shortly after Mrs. Weber's arrival, Mrs. Reed departed for
about one and one-half hours. During her absence one of Mrs.
Hoy's friends suggested to Mr. Hoy that he get some rest. He
retired to the basement bedroom. Mrs. Jordan testified that
she visited on and off with Mrs. Fanny Hoy since 1953, and
that sometime during the fall of 1957 Fanny had told her "she
would like to undo something she had done," and that she would
like to sign over her policy to Paul, but that Mr. Hoy would
not permit it.
Mrs. Weber testified that Fanny had spoken to her in the
fall of '57 about changing the insurance policy and had
mentioned it again on the Sunday before her death; that on the
evening of February 19 after Mr. Hoy had retired and Mrs. Reed
had departed, Mrs. Jordan and Mrs. Pierson began talking about
the beneficiary change. Mrs. Weber procured the address and
drove Paul Stockdale to the local insurance agency, where he
obtained the proper forms, and they drove back to the Hoy
Pat Jordan testified that, in the meantime, she called her
sister, Mrs. Marilyn Catalano, who was a notary public. Mrs.
Catalano testified that she knew Mrs. Hoy from Sunday School
but did not know Mr. Hoy; that Fanny Hoy had never talked to
her about changing the beneficiary on the policy but had on
previous occasions mentioned notarizing some papers; that when
her sister called for her to come, she "knew what * * *
[she] * * * was going for and took her notary seal * * *" that
upon arrival, she found Mrs. Hoy in her bedroom with Mrs.
Weber, Mrs. Pierson, Mrs. Jordan, Pat Jordan, and Mr. and Mrs.
Paul Stockdale; that she gave the forms to Mrs. Hoy; that
someone helped Mrs. Hoy to sit on the edge of the bed and gave
her a magazine to rest the papers on, and that Mrs. Hoy signed
the papers in blank. After signing, Mrs. Hoy gave the papers to
Mrs. Jordan who gave them to Mrs. ...