Supreme Council of Royal Arcanum v. Behrend,
247 U.S. 394 (1918)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Council of Royal Arcanum v. Behrend, 247 U.S. 394 (1918)

Supreme Council of The Royal Arcanum v. Behrend

No. 267

Argued April 25, 1918

Decided June 3, 1918

247 U.S. 394


In the absence of a special provision of law or rule of the association to the contrary, the naming of a person as beneficiary in the benefit certificate of a fraternal benefit association confers an expectancy merely, which may be defeated by the act of the insured member in taking out a substitute certificate changing the beneficiary.

The fact that the first-named beneficiary had paid the assessments before the change raises no legal claim upon the insurance.

A benefit certificate expressed a promise to pay the beneficiary therein named, upon the insured member's death, provided the "certificate shall not have been surrendered by said member and another certificate issued at his request," and bore a printed form providing for "surrender and return" of the certificate by the member in changing the beneficiary. Held: That the requirement of surrender did not necessarily imply a return of the original paper.

A requirement that a certificate of a fraternal benefit association shall be surrendered by the insured member before a new one is issued is for the protection of the association, and, if waived by it or complied with to its satisfaction during the member's lifetime, it cannot be availed of by a former beneficiary.

5 App.D.C. 260 reversed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 247 U. S. 395

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