Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois, No. 03-D-2023 Honorable Robert P. Brumund, Judge, Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Lytton
The defendant, Lisa Hintzsche, the independent administrator of the estate of Guy Blake Allton, appeals from the circuit court's order directing an insurance company to pay the proceeds of a life insurance policy to the plaintiff, Colleen Allton. Hintzsche argues that Guy and Colleen's children were entitled to the life insurance proceeds because the marital settlement agreement required Guy to change the policy's beneficiary from Colleen to the children. We reverse and remand.
Colleen and Guy married on August 8, 2000. They had two children together. On August 10, 2000, Guy obtained a life insurance policy for $100,000. He named Colleen as the primary beneficiary and his father as the successor beneficiary.
Colleen filed for divorce on December 12, 2003. The circuit court entered a judgment for dissolution of marriage on May 19, 2004. In its order, the court adopted a Marital Settlement Agreement (Agreement) into which the parties entered. The Agreement contained the following property settlement provision regarding life insurance benefits:
"Each party shall maintain a life insurance policy upon his or her life, such that upon the death of said party, each child of the parties shall be entitled to receive death benefits, in an amount of not less than $50,000.00 per child. Each party shall be obligated to maintain said policies so long as the parties have an obligation to support the children or contribute to their post-secondary education. Neither party shall cause liens to be secured against said benefits, which would diminish the aforesaid proceeds to a child of the parties. Following the execution hereto, each party agrees to obtain and keep said policies in full force and effect and to designate the children of the parties as the sole irrevocable beneficiaries under said policies. Each party shall provide the other with proof of the existence, terms and provisions of said policies within 30 days of the entry of a Judgment herein and thereafter annually provide proof that said policies have been maintained."
The Agreement also contained the following provision in its "Miscellaneous Provisions" section:
"Each of the parties, his or her heirs, executors and administrators, in accordance with the terms hereof, upon the demand of the other party, will execute any and all instruments and documents as may be designated herein or as may be reasonably necessary to make effective the provisions of this agreement and release his or her respective interests in any property, real or personal belonging to or awarded to the other. It is the intention of the parties that this Agreement shall constitute a complete adjustment of the property rights of the parties hereto and that each party will perform all subsidiary acts to accomplish same."
The Agreement did not specifically mention Guy's existing life insurance policy.
On November 23, 2004, Guy died in a car accident. Hintzsche, the administrator of Guy's estate, filed a Petition to Enforce Divorce Decree and Reform Beneficiary Designation on June 30, 2005. In the petition, Hintzsche stated that State Farm Insurance Company requested a court order directing the payment of the proceeds of Guy's life insurance policy because Colleen was claiming that the proceeds should be paid to her despite the Agreement's provisions. Hintzsche alleged that the life insurance proceeds should be paid to the children, rather than to Colleen.
At the hearing on the petition, the court found that:
"There is nothing in this judgment that required the specific policy that he had at the time of his death or at the time of the judgment to name the children. It specifically says, 'following the execution hereto, each party agrees to obtain and keep in full force.' Well, it says that the parties agree to obtain. That doesn't mean that the parties agree to change the beneficiaries on the policies as they existed prior to the judgment for dissolution of marriage."
The court denied Hintzsche's petition and ordered State Farm to pay the ...