A 41-year-old lawyer will become chairman of the largest U.S. mutual life insurer June 1.

Theodore Mathas will be succeeding Seymour Sternberg, 65, as chairman of New York Life Insurance Company, New York, the company says.

Sternberg passed the title of chief executive officer on to Mathas in June 2008.

Mathas has been president of New York Life since July 2007, and he will keep that title as well as the CEO title, the company says. New York Life first announced the transition in February 2008.

Sternberg has been chairman of New York Life since April 1997.

Mathas has a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a law degree from the University of Virginia. He began working for New York Life in the company’s asset management department in 1995.

Mathas now serves on the board of the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington.

“The company’s sales of life insurance and annuity products have soared under his leadership, and public confidence in New York Life has never been greater,” Sternberg says in a statement about the leadership change. “We are fortunate to have a leader of Ted’s judgment, energy, intellect and vision.”