If you are legally married your spouse is going to inherit community property that you shared together even if you do not have an estate plan in place. Of course this does not mean that you should ignore estate planning just because you are married because there are a lot of things to take into consideration.
For one you may have a broader estate plan in mind. And and there are many different factors to consider with regard to the best way to transfer assets in a tax efficient manner that protects them from creditors and claimants while avoiding other forms of asset erosion.
Yet, if an individual was to die suddenly without an estate plan in place his or her spouse would be protected by the intestacy laws of succession. However, people who are engaged in same-sex unions have no such protections. If you are in a long-term committed relationship as a gay individual and your partner was to die without any estate planning documents having been executed his or her legal next of kin would inherit property owned by your partner according to these rules of succession.
This also applies to medical decisions made in behalf of people who are incapacitated and unable to communicate. Sadly, there have been cases when the family members of a gay person have even denied hospital visitation rights to his or her long-term partner.
So when you are involved in a same-sex union that is not legally recognized as a valid marriage estate planning is absolutely essential. And beyond this, even if you were to get married in a state such as New York or Connecticut where marriage licenses are being issued to gay couples, challenges could ensue in the future that may bring the validity of the union into question.
Why take chances? Though the powers that be may not recognize gay marriages in most states, you do have the ability to record your wishes in a legally binding manner by devising an ironclad estate plan with the assistance of an experienced legacy planning attorney.