United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division
MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
cause is before the Court on the Complaint for Interpleader
filed by Standard Insurance Company (Standard). Having
reviewed the relevant documents, the Court distributes the
interpleaded funds to Marquita L. Harnett in the amount of
$23, 444.44 and to Christina Weiprecht in the amount of $5,
555.56. A default judgment is entered against the remaining
March 2017, Standard filed this statutory interpleader action
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1335 naming as defendants
Michael J. Harnett, Brooke Kletzli, Kellen Kletzli, Christina
Weiprecht, and Marquita L. Harnett. Because many of the
parties share the same last name, the Court will refer to
each party by his or her first name.
deposited $29, 000 in insurance proceeds with the Clerk of
the Court and sought discharge. The only defendants who have
appeared and participated in this action are Marquita, the
decedent's daughter, and Christina, the decedent's
granddaughter, who has appeared, without objection, through
Vicky McCoy, who is Christina's agent pursuant to a power
October 16, 2017, this Court discharged and dismissed
Standard from this action. See Opinion (d/e 17). The
Court also issued an Entry of Default against Defendants
Michael, Brooke, and Kellen. See d/e 16, 17, 18. The
Court advised Michael, Brooke, and Kellen that the Court
would enter a default judgment against each of them within 14
days of the date of the Entry of Default unless he or she
could show good cause for setting aside the Entry of Default.
None of these defendants has filed a response. Based on the
information available to the Court, none of these defendants
is a minor, incompetent, or a member of the military.
interpleader action generally proceeds in two stages. First,
the Court determines whether interpleader is warranted.
Second, the Court resolves the merits of the claims.
Aaron v. Mahl, 550 F.3d 659, 663 (7th Cir. 2008).
This Court previously found that interpleader was warranted.
See Opinion (d/e 17). The Court will now resolve the
merits of the claims.
issued a Group Life Insurance Policy to the Albuquerque
Public Schools on January 1, 2012. The Policy provided life
insurance coverage to eligible employees of the Albuquerque
Public Schools, including the decedent, Vesta Harnett. Vesta
retired from employment with the Albuquerque Public Schools
in 1991, 24 years before her death on September 17, 2015.
Several years prior to her death, Vesta moved from
Albuquerque to Springfield, Illinois. Upon Vesta's death,
her lawful beneficiary or beneficiaries were eligible for
life insurance benefits, which included a Basic Life
Insurance Benefit of $4, 000 and an Additional Life Insurance
Benefit of $25, 000. The total benefit of $29, 000 is
referred to as the “Life Benefit.” On July 22,
2015, Vesta named her son, Michael, as her agent in an
Illinois Statutory Short Form Power of Attorney For Property.
Within three days, and pursuant to the power of attorney,
Michael changed Vesta's prior beneficiary designation to
provide Michael with 100% of the Life Benefit.
under Illinois law, the agent under a power of attorney does
not have the ability to change beneficiaries unless the power
of attorney document specifically provides that he or she can
do so. See 755 ILCS 45/3-4 (explaining the powers
granted in the statutory short form power of attorney for
property and noting that the agent does not have the power to
change any beneficiary); Estate of Nicholls, 2011 IL
App (4th) 100871, ¶¶ 24-26, 960 N.E.2d 78, 82-83
(Ill.App.Ct. 2011) (providing that the general grant of power
in a power of attorney is insufficient to authorize the agent
to change beneficiaries). Because the power of attorney form
did not give Michael the authority to change the beneficiary
designation, the last beneficiary designation by Vesta, which
was made on June 15, 2011, remains in effect.
2011 beneficiary designation divides the $4, 000 Basic Life
Insurance Benefit equally between Vesta's children,
Michael and Marquita. The 2011 beneficiary designation
divides the $25, 000 Additional Life Insurance Benefit
between Michael and Marquita (one-third each), and between
Vesta's four grandchildren, Christina, Kellen, Brooke,
and Sean Kletzli (one-twelfth each).
Marquita and Christina have appeared in this action and made
any claim to the proceeds. Therefore, the Court treats the
non-appearing defendants as deceased under the Policy and
divides the insurance proceeds pursuant to the 2011
beneficiary designation. The entire $4, 000 Basic Life
Insurance Benefit is awarded to Marquita. See Policy
at 28 (d/e 1-2) (providing that, if two or more beneficiaries
are named in a class, and only one survives, the total
benefits will be paid to the surviving beneficiary).
$25, 000 Additional Life Insurance Benefit is divided as
follows: (1) Marquita receives the 1/3 provided to her in the
2011 beneficiary designation: $ 8, 333.33; (2) Christina
receives the 1/12 provided to her in the 2011 beneficiary
designation: $ 2, 777.78; and (3) the remaining $13, 888.89
is divided between Marquita and Christina in proportionate
shares such that Marquita receives $11, 111.11
and Christina receives $2, 777.78. See Policy at 28
(applying the following where two or more beneficiaries are
named in a class: “If you provide for unequal shares in
a class, and two or more Beneficiaries in that class survive,
we will pay each surviving Beneficiary his or her designated
share. Unless you provide otherwise, we will then pay the
share(s) otherwise due to any deceased Beneficiary(ies) to
the surviving Beneficiaries pro rata based on the
relationship that the designated percentage or fractional
share of each surviving Beneficiary bears to the total shares
of all surviving Beneficiaries.”).