Why the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act is Essential

Sep 30, 2015

With unanimous approval by The Senate, the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act is on its way to helping those individuals with disabilities who are able to help themselves.

What is a special needs trust?

Medicaid is a program that can help pay for health care costs, housing and support services. Many individuals need Medicaid to help pay for these items and services. Medicaid restricts the amount of assets the person on Medicaid can keep and still qualify for Medicaid. From time to time, a Medicaid recipient may receive assets in their own name that cause them to loose eligibility. In these situations, a first party special needs trust (sometimes also called a supplemental needs trust) allows an individual with special needs transfer these excess assets to the trust and still maintain benefits.

The current law sets out the requirements for special needs trust funded by a Medicaid beneficiary is causing a lot of headaches for disabled individuals. The ones who have the funds and know-how to establish their own trust sometimes have to go through an extensive legal process to get their trusts established by a court.

Starting your own special needs trust

Right now, the law inaccurately assumes that all individuals living with a disability are incapable of handling their own affairs. This is an unfair generalization. Parents, grandparents, judge’s (using a court order) and legal guardians are the only entities that can establish a special needs trust. However, if an individual does not have any of these available to establish the trust, they must petition the court, resulting in excessive legal fees and delays.

The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act

Why can’t a competent individual create a first-party special needs trust? These are the questions and scenarios that the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act is meant to address.

The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act is hot on the heels of the ABLE Act being passed, and now people with disabilities and special needs are finally getting the opportunities for a better, more financially-stable life instead of being pigeonholed. With bi-partisan support and common sense on its side, the SNTF Act should be part of the law sooner rather than later.

If you have any questions about special needs trusts, and would like to consult with an elder law expert, please contact us at the Law Office of Christina Lesher, PC. Reach our office at 713-529-5900 or online through our website.

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