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Estate of Albrecht v. Winter

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

February 20, 2015

THE ESTATE of Douglas V. Albrecht, plaintiff-appellee and cross-appellant,
v.
Cheryl A. Winter, defendant-appellant and cross-appellee

Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit Peoria County, Illinois, Circuit No. 11-P-157. Honorable Michael Brandt, Judge, Presiding.

Reversed in part and affirmed in part.

SYLLABUS

In an action by decedent's estate and his surviving former spouse challenging the trial court's award paying the proceeds of a life insurance policy on decedent and a surviving spouse annuity to decedent's former wife based on the trial court's finding that the former wife waived her rights to the proceeds of the insurance policy but not the surviving spouse annuity in the property settlement, the appellate court, in considering the parties' cross-appeal and in the absence of language sufficient to constitute a waiver of the surviving spouse's rights in the insurance proceeds, found that the trial court erred in awarding those proceeds to her and the judgment for her was reversed; however, with respect to the provisions of the settlement agreement dealing with the surviving spouse annuity, the language listing the pension payments demonstrated an intent that decedent's former spouse would waive any interest and that she would continue to receive the surviving spouse annuity, which would leave her with a monthly pension income nearly equal to decedent's, and therefore, the trial court did not err in finding that she did not waive her rights to the surviving spouse annuity.

James P. Lawson (argued), of Hasselberg, Williams, Grebe, Snodgrass & Urban, of Peoria, for appellant.

Jeremy H. Heiple and Jonathan J. Heiple (argued), both of Heiple Law Offices, of Peoria, for appellee.

JUSTICE O'BRIEN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice McDade and Justice Holdridge concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Page 976

O'BRIEN, JUSTICE

[¶1] Plaintiff, the estate of Douglas Albrecht (the Estate), challenged the payment of the proceeds of a life insurance policy and a surviving spouse annuity to defendant Cheryl Albrecht, Douglas's former wife, arguing Cheryl waived her rights to the insurance proceeds and annuity in the judgment of dissolution. The trial court found that Cheryl waived her rights to the insurance policy proceeds but

Page 977

not to the surviving spouse annuity. Cheryl appealed and the Estate cross-appealed. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

[¶2] FACTS

[¶3] Defendant Cheryl Winter (f/k/a Cheryl Albrecht) and Douglas Albrecht were married in May 1975. In January 2003, Douglas retired from his job at Caterpillar effective February 1, 2003, and applied for his pension benefit. He elected a surviving spouse's benefit of $650 per month and named Cheryl, his then-wife, as beneficiary. Upon his February ...


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