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SUN LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY OF CANADA v. HOY

May 14, 1959

SUN LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY OF CANADA, A CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CLARENCE ABRAHAM HOY AND PAUL R. STOCKDALE, DEFENDANTS.



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 liability.

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 mentioned.

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 $100 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 home.

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. ...


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