The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act (SNTFA) was signed into law by President Obama, after being approved by the House and Senate, in 2016. While Special Needs Trusts have been since the Omnibus Reconciliation Act was passed in 1993, there was an oversight when the Act was drafted.
Before the SNTFA was signed into law, individuals with disabilities who had capacity were unable to establish their own special needs trusts. These individuals had to rely on a family member, legal guardian, or a court to establish a special needs trust for them.
The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) has been lobbying to fix the error since 2013. Finally, after getting different versions of the bill approved by the House and Senate, it was signed into law by President Obama on December 13, 2016.
While this is a phenomenal development for individuals with special needs, who have capacity, it is critical to note that this legislation is prospective, not retroactive, and only applies to special needs trusts established on or drafted after December 13, 2016.
If you are interested in learning more about special needs trusts and if this is an option for you or a loved one, contact a special needs planning attorney or call our firm at (505)872-0505.