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Tyre v. Aetna Life Insurance Co.

Supreme Court of California
54 Cal. 2d 399 (1960)


Facts

Rebecca (plaintiff) and Louis Tyre were married in 1917. Louis obtained a life-insurance policy from Aetna Life Insurance Company (Aetna) (defendant) in 1926. The life-insurance policy provided $20,000 in insurance benefits on Louis’s death. The insurance premiums were paid with community-property funds. In 1946, Louis made Rebecca his beneficiary and chose for Rebecca to receive the insurance benefits in a lump sum. In 1950, Louis changed the plan to provide that Rebecca would receive the insurance benefits as an annuity payment based on Rebecca’s life expectancy. If Rebecca did not survive Louis by 10 years, the annuity payments would be divided among Rebecca and Louis’s three daughters. Louis died in 1957, and Rebecca learned of the change to the insurance plan after Louis had passed away. Rebecca rejected the change Louis made to the method of payments and requested cash payment for the face value of the original policy. Aetna refused to pay Rebecca. Rebecca and her daughters filed suit for Rebecca’s $10,000 community-property interest in the insurance proceeds. Rebecca also petitioned the court to award Rebecca the remainder of the policy proceeds via annuity payments, as directed by Louis. The trial court rejected Rebecca’s requests. Rebecca appealed the trial court’s judgment. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment. Rebecca petitioned the Supreme Court of California for review.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Traynor, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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