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WALSH v. JOHN HANCOCK MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY (06/16/72)

decided: June 16, 1972.

WALSH, APPELLANT,
v.
JOHN HANCOCK MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, June T., 1967, No. 10172-B, in case of Sarah Walsh v. John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company.

COUNSEL

Alan S. Carpel, for appellant.

J. Bradley Taylor, for appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, Cercone, and Packel, JJ. Opinion by Hoffman, J.

Author: Hoffman

[ 221 Pa. Super. Page 484]

This is an appeal from the award of the proceeds of certain policies of insurance issued on the life of Stephen B. Walsh, deceased. The trial judge awarded the proceeds, Three Thousand Three Hundred and Sixty-Nine Dollars and Ten Cents ($3,369.10), to the decedent's

[ 221 Pa. Super. Page 485]

    second wife. Exceptions to the trial judge's ruling were filed and heard by the court en banc. The court en banc modified the trial judge's order by awarding the sum of Two Thousand Three Hundred and Forty-Nine Dollars and Ninety-Eight Cents ($2,349.98) to the daughter of decedent's first wife, thereby reducing the award to decedent's second wife accordingly. The sum awarded to the daughter of decedent's first wife represented the amount of the premiums paid by decedent's first wife and her daughter on the policies of life insurance.

There is no dispute as to the facts, the parties having stipulated to them. In September, 1916, Stephen B. Walsh married his first wife. Between May, 1917, and December, 1926, the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company issued a number of policies on the life of Stephen B. Walsh, with Walsh's first wife named as the beneficiary. All the policies provided that Walsh could change the beneficiary.

In 1927, Walsh and his first wife separated. Prior to the separation, a daughter was born of the marriage. Walsh's first wife paid all the premiums on the insurance policies from the time of the separation until her death in March, 1965. During that time the policies were in her possession, and Walsh exercised no control over them and made no attempt to change the beneficiary.

Under the provisions of the will of Walsh's first wife, Walsh's daughter by his first wife was named Executrix and sole heir of her mother's estate. Following the death of his first wife, Walsh married his second wife, with whom he had been living since prior to 1940. Thereafter, Walsh sent an affidavit to the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company requesting that the beneficiary of the insurance policies be changed from his first wife to his second wife.

[ 221 Pa. Super. Page 486]

Despite the requested beneficiary change, neither Walsh nor his second wife paid any of the premiums on the insurance policies. The policies remained in the possession of Walsh's daughter by his first marriage, as they had previously in her ...


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