The Elder and Disability Law Firm, APC
GLBT Estate Planning
If you are legally married your spouse is going to be recognized as your next of kin by the law. As a result there are some built-in protections available to you even if you did not execute estate planning documents recording your wishes.
There are intestacy laws of succession that would hold sway and your spouse would be first in line. He or she would also be the individual that the medical community would consult with regarding health care decisions made in your behalf if you were to become unable to communicate for some reason.
Same-sex couples who are in long-term committed relationships may not be legally married in many cases, so there are no inherent protections. For this reason it is especially important for gay couples to be proactive about sitting down with an estate planning attorney to get all the proper documents in place.
Even if you are legally married at the moment you never know what the future holds with regard to legislative changes. Of course here in California the Proposition 8 situation is a prime example. The best way to be sure that your wishes are carried out is to take legally binding action and assert your decisions in writing.
Without question, estate planning is an absolute must for people who are involved in same-sex unions. If you are engaged in such a union and have not yet devised an estate plan you may want to take action right now to arrange for a consultation with an experienced Redlands CA estate planning attorney who is sensitive to the needs of the GLBT community.