We previously blogged about Philadelphia based law firm Cozen O’Conner’s efforts to obtain a guidance as to how to pay-out the profit sharing plan of one of their partners who was in a same-sex marriage. Cozen was presented with a beneficiary designation form which appears to grant the partner’s parents the benefit.
Muddying the issue was that Ms. Farley’s marriage to Ms. Tobitz occurred in Toronto in 2006; a marriage that was not recognized by her home state of Illinois or Cozen’s home state of Pennsylvania.
But no longer – today, Illinois’s governor signs into law the legal recognition of civil unions. Beginning in June 2011, the state will begin issuing licenses to both heterosexual and homosexual partners.
How this will impact the beneficiary issue is unclear since even if the type of union Ms. Farley and Ms. Tobitz had is now recognized by the state, Ms. Farley’s death may preclude a legal recognition of its existence. On the other hand, it is possible that Ms. Tobitz may seek validation of her Canadian marriage under Illinois law, thereby establishing herself as Ms. Farley’s legal heir – to the exclusion of Ms. Farley’s parents.