Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County. No. 89-MR-74. Honorable Alford R. Penniman, Judge, Presiding.
Released for Publication February 23, 1994.
Quetsch, Woodward, Geiger
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Quetsch
JUSTICE QUETSCH delivered the opinion of the court:
Plaintiff, John Alden Life Insurance Company (John Alden Insurance), brought this interpleader action to determine who is entitled to receive the death benefit under a flexible contribution retirement annuity that it issued to the decedent, Harold R. Propp (Harold). At the time of his death on November 22, 1988, Harold was married to defendant Lavonne Propp (Lavonne). In his application for the annuity, Harold designated Lavonne as the primary beneficiary entitled to receipt of the death benefit. Harold's adult children, defendants Charlotte Propp Morley, James Propp, Richard Propp, Duane Propp and Jerry Propp (the Propp children), contend that Harold accomplished a valid change of beneficiaries, substituting them in place of Lavonne as beneficiaries under the annuity. Lavonne and the Propp children filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The trial court determined that Lavonne was entitled to receive the death benefit, and accordingly on February 22, 1991, the trial court entered summary judgment in Lavonne's favor and denied the Propp children's summary judgment motion. Thereafter, the trial court denied the Propp children's motion to reconsider and their petition for a trial on the merits. The Propp children now appeal, contending that they are entitled to summary judgment in their favor, or, alternatively, that a question of fact exists requiring a trial on the merits. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.
The record on appeal establishes that Harold purchased the annuity on July 14, 1987, from First Service Corporation of Rockford Insurance Agency (First Service). *fn1 As previously noted, Harold designated Lavonne as the primary beneficiary under the annuity. The annuity contract provides, in pertinent part:
"Beneficiaries may be changed at any time. * * * Written notice of the change, signed and dated by you, must be sent to our executive office. The change will be effective on the date you sign it."
Subsequent to Harold's death, John Alden Insurance received a copy of a letter dated June 7, 1988, written on First Service's stationery. The letter, ostensibly written by Harold, states, in pertinent part:
I, HAROLD R. PROPP, WOULD LIKE TO NOTIFY YOU OF AN ADDRESS AND BENEFICIARY CHANGE THAT HAS TAKEN PLACE.
MY NEW BENEFICIARY LIST SHOULD BE AS FOLLOWS:
1. CHARLOTTE MORLEY -- DAUGHTER 08/07/30
2. DICK PROPP -- SON 10/30/33
3. DUANE PROPP -- SON ...