Included in the 21st Century Cures Act, the legislation known as the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act was signed into law earlier this month.

In short, a Special Needs Trust can now be established by a disabled person directly. A Special Needs Trust is a specific type of trust that allows for disabled individuals to hold and receive assets while still maintaining eligibility for government benefits.

Previously, a Special Needs Trust for a disabled person could only have been established by a parent, grandparent, guardian, or the court. Allowing for otherwise competent disabled individuals to establish a trust for their own benefit allows disabled individuals to increase their independence and eliminates the needless time and expense of requiring another person, or the court, to establish the trust.

This reform has been long sought by NAELA, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and other disability advocates. The new law is now in effect.