Justice Debra Silber


Read Full-Text Decision

Petitioner brought a prior special proceeding for approval to transfer structured settlement payments to it from payee Arthur D., but was denied. The court stated the underlying personal injury suit—from which the annuity for the structured settlement payments arose—was brought by Arthur and his wife, and the settlement agreement indicated she was the beneficiary of such payments if Arthur died before any guaranteed payments were made. While Arthur alleged the couple was now divorced, there was no evidence of same, and there was nothing provided to demonstrate that wife waived her rights as beneficiary of these payments if Arthur died before they were paid, nor was her consent obtained. Further, while EPTL 5-1.4 provided that a divorce revoked any revokable beneficiary designation to a former spouse, as wife signed the settlement contract, the document could not be interpreted as a revokable beneficiary designation. Also, a divorce settlement agreement may provide for waiver of a spouse’s claims to property, but such waiver must be explicit. Therefore, as this petition was identical to the prior and wife’s consent, or waiver were not obtained, the court denied approval noting Arthur may not assign his guaranteed payments without same.