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Improving Lives: The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act

It is very exciting to report that Senators Nelson, Grassley, Rockefeller and Enzi have introduced the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act this morning. This legislation (S.B.1672) will improve the lives of people with disabilities who were unable to set up their own Special Needs Trust.

The bill addresses a problem facing many capable persons with disabilities: the inability to create their own special needs trust (SNT). Under the current law, the SNT must be established by a parent, grandparent, legal guardian of the individual, or a court. The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act will help empower people with disabilities to be responsible for their life decisions. The House companion is H.R. 2123, introduced by Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-5th-PA) and Frank Pallone (D-6th-NJ).

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) brought this issue to Congress and now has received the support of sponsors from both the House and the Senate. “The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act is a common-sense solution that will save individuals with disabilities from unnecessary legal costs and time spent in petitioning the courts and gives them back their dignity and constitutional right,” stated NAELA Board Member Michael Amoruso, Esq.  He continued: “Without this bill, I, a blind and moderately deaf attorney who regularly drafts SNTs for clients, would not be able to sign my own SNT in the future.”

For more information, read “Congress’ Drafting Error Denies Individuals with Disabilities a Fundamental Right,” in the April 5, 2013, issue of NAELA: Eye on Elder and Special Needs Issues.

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