Disturbed by the discovery that a client—a woman with disabilities—wasn’t allowed to sign her own document establishing a special-needs trust, New York lawyer Michael Amoruso ’94 swung into action. The result was the passage of the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act, which sailed through the US Senate with unanimous approval and hit President Barack Obama’s desk to be signed in December of 2016. The new law allows for mentally competent individuals with disabilities to establish these types of trusts, which previously could only be created by a parent, grandparent, legal guardian, or a court. For Amoruso, who is legally blind, it was a victory in more ways than one. Constitutionally, it eliminated unfair obstacles and constraints on disabled individuals’ personal decision-making. Politically, it was an example of common-sense lawmaking with bipartisan support.
By Amanda Crowley
By Sean Doolittle ’24