35 A.2d 463 (N.J.Super.Ch. 1944), 149/156, Middlesex County Welfare Board v. Motolinsky

Docket Nº:149/156
Citation:35 A.2d 463, 134 N.J.Eq. 323
Opinion Judge:JAYNE, V. C.
Party Name:MIDDLESEX COUNTY WELFARE BOARD, a municipal corporation, complainant, v. ABRAHAM L. MOTOLINSKY, substituted administrator, cum testamento annexo, &c., et al., defendants
Attorney:Mr. Edmund A. Hayes (Mr. John T. Keefe, of counsel), for the complainant. Mr. Leo S. Lowenkopf, for the complainant Matruska. Mr. Samuel Convery, for the administrator. Mr. Louis Sellyei (Mr. Guido J. Brigiani, of counsel), for the defendant Balabas. Mr. Louis A. Mezey (Mr. Herman H. Anekstein, o...
Case Date:January 20, 1944
Court:Superior Court of New Jersey

Page 463

35 A.2d 463 (N.J.Super.Ch. 1944)

134 N.J.Eq. 323

MIDDLESEX COUNTY WELFARE BOARD, a municipal corporation, complainant,

v.

ABRAHAM L. MOTOLINSKY, substituted administrator, cum testamento annexo, &c., et al., defendants

No. 149/156

Court of Chancery of New Jersey

January 20, 1944

Page 464

On final hearing.

Mr. Edmund A. Hayes (Mr. John T. Keefe, of counsel), for the complainant.

Mr. Leo S. Lowenkopf, for the complainant Matruska.

Mr. Samuel Convery, for the administrator.

Mr. Louis Sellyei (Mr. Guido J. Brigiani, of counsel), for the defendant Balabas.

Mr. Louis A. Mezey (Mr. Herman H. Anekstein, of counsel), for the defendant Szabo.

OPINION

Page 465

[134 N.J.Eq. 324] JAYNE, V. C.

On May 26th, 1936, one Elizabeth Balabas presented to the complainant, Middlesex County Welfare Board, a verified application for old-age assistance in which she declared that she owned or possessed no assets, real or personal, other than a burial plot and an insurance policy of a fraternal society in the amount of $ 200. To the question "Have you within the last five years disposed of real estate, money in bank, or other property by sale, assignment, gift or otherwise?" she replied, "Sold in Sheriff's sale." She executed and delivered to the complainant the requisite collateral assignment and agreement to reimburse. A "certificate of notice of agreement to reimburse" and a "certificate to reimburse" were thereafter filed by complainant in the Middlesex County clerk's office in pursuance of the pertinent statute. The former was filed on October 10th, 1936, the latter on March 20th, 1942. Mrs. Balabas obtained pecuniary assistance in monthly payments from September 1st, 1936, to September 30th, 1940, aggregating $ 1,382.18. She died testate on October 30th, 1940.

In the course of the administration of her estate, the complainant ascertained that at the time of the decedent's application for old-age assistance, there were eight other existing policies of insurance payable upon the event of her death to her estate, and that she had thereafter effectuated a change of beneficiary in four of them, designating the defendant Caroline Szabo as the beneficiary of two policies issued by [134 N.J.Eq. 325] the Colonial Life Insurance Company, and the defendant William Balabas as the beneficiary of two issued by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. The remaining four policies continued to be payable to her estate. Moreover, it was discovered that by a deed dated September 6th, 1934, and recorded on November 5th, 1934, Mrs. Balabas had conveyed to Caroline Szabo two tracts of real estate situate in the Borough of Metuchen.

On September 18th, 1939, Mrs. Balabas executed a will in which she then purposed to bequeath to Caroline Szabo "the funds from the insurance policies carried on my life," specifically listing the eight policies. Her last will and testament was executed on October 14th, 1939, and its probate has been affirmed by the Middlesex County Orphans Court. The defendant Abraham L. Motolinsky is the administrator cum testamento annexo of the decedent's estate.

The following paragraphs of the will are somewhat illuminating:

"First: I direct that my body decently interred in the Our Lady of Hungary Rom. Catholic Church cemetery, according to the rites and ceremonies of that Church, that my funeral expenses shall not be less then $ 400.00, and that my Funeral Director

Page 466

shall Mr. John Mitruska of Perth Amboy, N. J.

"Second: I hereby give and beueath to my son BELA BALABAS MATOSZ of 68 Henry St., Fords, N. J., and Caroline Szabo of 43 Lincoln Ave., Metuchen, N. J., in equal alike shares the funds from the insurance policies carried on my life in the following companies:

Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., Policy No. 122505783 $ 255.00
Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., Policy No. 119350359 400.00
Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., Policy No. 121251763 184.00
John Hancock Life Ins. Co., Policy No. 26086678 400.00
The Prudential Ins. Co., Policy No. 105792057 400.00
The Prudential Ins. Co., Policy No. 103319979 500.00
The Colonial Life Ins. Co., Policy No. 3468046 180.00
The Colonial Life Ins. Co., Policy No. 3402078 300.00
Upon condition that after my decease, all expenses for my burial in the plot owned by me, and a headstone over my grave with necessary inscriptions thereon for the cost of not less than $ 100.00, first to be deducted from the total of aforesaid funds. I am bequeating into Mrs. Carolina Szabo who is a stranger to me other wise because during my lifetime she rendered aid and assistance to me, and faithfully paid from her own fund a large part of the premiums on the aforesaid policies." [134 N.J.Eq. 326] By means of an agreement designed to more promptly liberate the insurance companies from their acknowledged liabilities and likewise shield the adverse claims of these defendants pending eventual solution, the insurance companies entrusted the proceeds of the policies amounting to $ 2,753.91 to the administrator of the assured's estate, who sought by petition to have the Middlesex County Orphans Court determine "the ownership of said funds in dispute" and "instructions by the court as to the distribution of said funds." The complainant thereupon filed the present bill charging fraudulent practices by Mrs. Balabas, Caroline Szabo and William Balabas, as well as other causes of action cognizable by this court, and praying that the proceeding in the Orphans Court be enjoined and that a decree be made by this court in effect impressing a lien upon the proceeds of the policies and upon the parcels of real estate previously conveyed, to secure the reimbursement of the complainant. True, this court will not ordinarily assume jurisdiction where a proceeding involving the same subject-matter has already been instituted in another court, and in which proceeding a complete and adequate adjudication of the rights and remedies of the parties can be accomplished. Lewis v. Morgan, 132 N.J.Eq. 343; 28 A.2d 215. Significantly, the decedent's estate has not been decreed to be insolvent and therefore it was not manifest that the Orphans Court had jurisdiction to adjudge the rights of these parties to the fund, to judicially determine their respective shares and to afford the desired equitable remedies (liens) sought by the complainant as a creditor of the estate and by the defendants Szabo and Balabas arising from the alleged payment by them of premiums. It has been resolved that the Orphans Court lacks jurisdiction (except in the case of insolvent estates) to hear and determine the validity or extent of claims of creditors against a decedent's estate. Miller v. Pettit, 16 N.J.L. 421; Vreeland v. Schoonmaker, 16 N.J.Eq. 512; Middleton v. Middleton, 35 N.J.Eq. 115; Partridge v. Partridge, 46 N.J.Eq. 434; 19 A. 662; affirmed, 47 N.J.Eq. [134 N.J.Eq. 327] 601; 22 A. 1075; Mullaney v. Mullaney, 65 N.J.Eq. 384, 387; 54 A. 1086; In re Fulper, 99 N.J.Eq. 293; 132 A. 834. The claim of an alleged cestui que trust to establish a trust in his favor as against a portion of the apparent assets of the decedent in the hands of the representative was declared to be extraneous the jurisdictional orbit of the Orphans Court. In re O'Callaghan, 64 N.J.Eq....

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