NEENAN v. Sergio Joseph Rizzo, Appellant.

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, New York.

Thomas NEENAN, Respondent, v. ITT HARTFORD, Successor in Interest to Hartford Life Insurance Company, Defendant, Sergio Joseph Rizzo, Appellant.

Decided: December 31, 1998

Present:  PINE, J.P., HAYES, WISNER, PIGOTT and BALIO, JJ. Cohen & Assoc. P.C. (Alfred Heilman, of counsel), Rochester, for Defendant-Appellant. David C. Pelton by James Connelly, Rochester, for Plaintiff-Respondent.

 We affirm for reasons stated in the decision at Supreme Court (Siracuse, J.).   We add only that there is no merit to the contention of defendant Sergio Joseph Rizzo that, in the absence of a written assignment of the life insurance policy, plaintiff's wife retained the authority to change the policy's beneficiary (see, General Obligations Law § 5-701[a][9] ).   An insurance policy is a chose in action, “and delivery to the assignee or donee with intent to vest title is essential to a valid gift and * * * accomplishes a valid assignment * * * not impaired by the Statute of Frauds” (Katzman v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 309 N.Y. 197, 203, 128 N.E.2d 307).   After plaintiff took possession of the policy and began paying the premiums, his wife agreed, as part of their divorce settlement, that property then in the possession of plaintiff would be his “to dispose of the same as fully and effectually as if he * * * were unmarried”.   That agreement divested the wife of all dominion over the policy and unequivocally establishes her irrevocable donative intent (cf., Williams v. Guile, 117 N.Y. 343, 347, 22 N.E. 1071).

Order unanimously affirmed without costs.

MEMORANDUM: