U.S. Capital

Special Needs Trust Fairness Act Opens Doors for Disabled Adults

May 29, 2017

San Francisco, CA (Law Firm Newswire) May 29, 2017 – Former President Barack Obama signed the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act (SNTFA) into law as part of the 21st Century Cures Act.

The act, signed on December 13, 2016, corrects an oversight in the law that assumes all individuals with disabilities are mentally incapable of managing their own affairs. Mentally competent, disabled adults can now create special needs trusts for their own use. The legislation was passed largely due to the efforts of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and Special Needs Alliance (SNA).

“We are particularly proud of NAELA’s legislative advocacy efforts,” said Michael Gilfix. Gilfix is both a co-founder and a Fellow of NAELA.

Previously, such trusts had to be created by the disabled individual’s legal guardian, parent, grandparent or by petitioning the court. The necessity for family or court involvement led to time-consuming and costly delays.

“Prior to the law’s enactment, individuals with disabilities who did not have a living relative were unable to create their own special needs trust without undergoing lengthy court proceedings,” said Gilfix. “The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act provides a measure of independence by empowering capable adults with disabilities to make their own decisions without being forced to rely on others.”

The act recognizes that some people with physical disabilities do possess the requisite mental capacity to handle their own finances and other needs. In addition, they may not require guardians or have the family members required to establish a special needs trust.

Specials needs trusts are a key planning tool for disabled individuals who collect benefits from Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid and other means tested programs. While government benefits pay for day-to-day living and medical costs, assets placed in a trust can be used to pay for other essential items and services.

“With the assets in a special needs trust, disabled individuals are able to enjoy an improved quality of life without being disqualified from receiving financial assistance from the government,” said Gilfix. “As setting up a special needs trust involves many considerations, it is necessary to seek the guidance of a knowledgeable special needs planning attorney.”

Individuals with special needs children are encouraged to visit the Gilfix website to learn more and to obtain Gilfix’s consumer friendly book, “Special Needs Trust Creation and Management Guide.”

Gilfix & La Poll Associates LLP
2300 Geng Rd., Suite 200
Palo Alto, CA 94303
Telephone: (650) 493-8070

Facebook: Like Us!

  • Thank You For Making our 13th Annual Special Needs Seminar our Best Yet
    Gilfix and La Poll wishes to thank the hundreds of attendees, and wonderful nonprofit co-sponsors, for making our 13th annual Special Needs Seminar our best yet! We were overwhelmed with the response, and with all of the kind comments we received from seminar attendees. We were also thrilled to see many attendees connecting with co-sponsor […]
  • Gilfix and La Poll invites families to attend 13th Annual Special Needs Trust Seminar
    Let’s face it, everyone is worried about the future of government benefits and how individuals with special needs will be cared for. To address this attorneys Michael Gilfix and Mark Gilfix of Gilfix and La Poll Associates are offering a free special needs planning seminar on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 in Palo Alto, California. The […]
  • Autism costs rise dramatically with age: study
    Caring for individuals with autism and other special needs tends to involve a lifetime of expenses, whether it is paying for caregivers, accommodation or daily necessities. A study from the University of California, Davis (UCD), shows California spends significantly more on adults with autism compared to children who have the disorder. Researchers found state expenditures […]
  • Military retirees can now use special needs trusts for SBP payments
    Military families with special needs children face a number of difficulties when planning for their future financial security. However, a new law now allows military retirees more flexibility and peace of mind with the way their Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) can be paid upon their passing. The SBP allows retired military members to designate up […]
  • Estate planning implications of winning the lottery
    Although winning the lottery can be exciting, it carries enormous estate and gift tax implications. Finances can dwindle away in no time if they are not managed properly. Lottery winners have the option of taking the prize as a lump sum or an annuity that is divided into 30 annual payments. California exempts lottery winnings […]