In September of 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill (SB-2) that effectively undermined our law enforcement’s “qualified immunity” that shielded public officers (i.e., Firemen, Paramedics, Police Officers, Detectives, FBI Agents, etc.) from certain liabilities while on the job protecting their communities. SB-2 is the second bill of its kind, the first being The Tom Baine Civil Rights Act codified in Cal. Civ. Code § 52.1 which also increased the personal liability of these public servants back in 1988. SB-2 amends the Baine Act and further increases the personal liability of officers for violating a civil right whether or not the officer was acting under color of law and designed intentionally to make it even easier to sue officers which could result in personal asset loss.
What can you do?
There are several legal options you can deploy to maximize your protection and minimize your exposure. Considering the elevated risk of liability and exposure inherent in these professions, planning ahead may be the key to protecting your family. The timing you choose to initiate your estate plan is critical. If you wait until after you’re exposed, your attempt to shield your assets could be considered fraudulent and set aside. (Mejia v. Reed (2003) 31 Cal.4th 657, Cal. Civ. Code §3439.05).
An effective estate plan should avoid probate and maximize protection for your loved ones. The most effective means of avoiding the cost and hassle of probate is through a living trust type of planning that is revocable and changeable. Although revocable trusts do not offer creditor protection, married couples can use this type of planning for significant creditor protection at the death of a spouse with Marital Trust Planning (Cal. Prob. Code 18200, 18201, and 19000 to 19403). For immediate asset protection, our firm offers highly specialized and specific planning techniques customized for your specific family makeup and needs.