Jodi Rave: Get started on Indian estate planning
"All trust land holders need to begin estate planning, considering new regulations unfolding from the American Indian Probate and Reform Act.

AIPRA, which went into effect on June 20, 2006, includes new rules on how the Interior Department can diminish the number of people who inherit land. The final AIPRA regulations are set to be approved, likely by the end of July, said Michelle Singer, an Interior Department regulatory management director.

While few resources exist to help landowners, a few organizations are doing what they can to assist. The Indian Land Working Group in Albuquerque, N.M., and the estate planning institute, a project of the Indian Land Tenure Foundation in Little Canada, Minn., both strive to preserve and restore the individual and tribal land base.

Unfortunately, each organization is short of money.

The institute received Interior Department money in 2005 for a nine-month-long pilot project. It has since established privately funded and limited estate-planning services on 20 reservations in six states. The organization has scheduled a July 22-23 symposium in Seattle to provide training on the new AIPRA regulations and tribal probate codes.

Additional details about can be found at

The Indian Land Working Group has the most experience in educating Native landowners about land consolidation and preservation. Its organizers will host an 18th annual land conference this fall in Tucson, Ariz. Topics on the November agenda include discussions on probates and allottee associations. For more information, go to

Tribes and landowners can find other useful information on AIPRA on the Montana State University Web site at

The Web sites provide a solid background for anyone who wants to learn about land inheritance and preservation. I even found some standard forms to begin estate planning.

It's time to get started."

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Jodi Rave: Under new law, Natives need proper will to pass on their land