by Letha Sgritta McDowell, CELA
At 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time today, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act, which contains the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act that was passed by the Senate last week. While it seems to be a minimal change – literally inserting the term “the individual” into 42 U.S.C §1396p(d)(4)(A) – the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act has big implications. Until now, a first-party special needs trust could only be established by a parent, grandparent, guardian, or court, on behalf of a person with a disability. This presumed that all people with disabilities lacked the capacity to establish their own trusts. After today, people with disabilities may establish their own trusts, allowing them to contribute to their independence and quality of life.