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Professors' Corner—Tribal Will: The Challenges and Importance of Estate Planning Under the American Indian Probate Act of 2004

John Roach, Lucy Marsh, and Bradley Myers

This program will focus on the unique challenges of writing a will for a Tribal member who owns interests in allotments. The American Indian Probate Act of 2004 (AIPRA) severely truncated the heirs if a Tribal member who is an allotment holder dies intestate. In many instances the heir is the Tribe, and not any family member. In other circumstances, the act leaves the allotment interests to the oldest child, grandchild, or great grandchild – or then to the Tribe. This often has severe negative consequences in the family dynamics of the survivors. A valid will can circumvent these harsh results. Many Tribal members are aware of these circumstances but have great difficulty in finding an attorney who is willing to draft a will. It will be a great public service to the Native American community, as well as a source of business, for a law firm to become familiar with AIPRA and learn to draft wills appropriate to allotment holders.