Sarah Ellyn Farley—or Ellyn as she was known—lay in a hospital bed, coughing up blood, just a few hours from death. The rare form of cancer she had suffered from for more than four years was taking its final toll. Her wife Jennifer Tobits, whom she married in Toronto in February 2006, knew the end was near. But rather than wait by her bedside as Farley succumbed to the disease, she was caught in a bitter feud with Farley's parents over the rights to Farley's estate and employer-granted profit-sharing plan.
According to court documents, in those final hours, Farley's parents coerced Tobits to bring a copy of the designation of beneficiary form for the profit-sharing plan to the hospital. They then entered Farley's hospital room and had her sign the form designating them as the beneficiaries to the plan, worth approximately $41,000. The signing allegedly occurred no more than 30 minutes after Farley had been vomiting blood. Tobits never signed the spousal consent section of the form, an act she and her counsel allege was required to legitimize the transfer of beneficiary.
Farley died shortly thereafter, and now her parents, her employer and her surviving partner are embroiled in a fight to determine whether federal law precludes Tobits from being considered a legal spouse under Farley's employer's profit-sharing plan.
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Family Law Updates, Wills, Trusts, & Estate Planning Updates
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