Trust Assets and Probate

1. What is the American Indian Probate Reform Act (AIPRA)?(pdf)
(Guide to understand the effect of the AIPRA for those with or without a Will)

This guide provides information on the American Indian Probate Reform Act (also known as “AIPRA”) and how that law affects Indian trust lands (or allotments). While this guide does not focus specifically on Estate Planning or Wills, it does provide important information for people who own trust lands (allottees) about Estate Planning for their property. For information on what happens when an Indian person passes away, please see our “Probate Process for Native Americans” handout.

2. Respecting Your Wishes: Estate Planning for California Native Americans (pdf)
(This guide is designed to help you understand the basics of estate planning)

This guide is designed to help you understand the basics of estate planning but it is not meant as a comprehensive guide. When reading this guide for the first time, please read the guide from the beginning to end in order to best understand the information. It is important to note that if you are specifically looking for information on Indian Wills or the American Indian Probate Reform Act (AIPRA) then see our handout entitled, “What is the AIPRA?”

3. Probate Process for Native Americans (pdf)
(Basic guide to understanding the federal and state probate process for Indians)

This guide answers some of the most frequently asked questions about probate that you may have after an Indian loved one passes away. This guide does not focus upon Estate Planning or Wills. If you have questions regarding Indian Wills, please see our handout entitled, “What is the AIPRA?” This guide focuses on situations where the person who passed away had land in his or her name. Specifically the guide examines the situation where a person died who had interest in “trust” land (on a reservation or public domain allotment). This guide primarily discusses probates handled through the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Office of Hearings and Appeals. It does not focus upon the state court system. Probate is a complicated area of law. This guide is only an introduction to the probate process.

State Court Forms

 

In most cases, you have to pay a fee to file papers with the court. The fees are uniform in all 58 California counties (except for Riverside, San Bernardino and San Francisco counties, where fees may include a small surcharge related to local court construction needs).  This link gives you more information about asking the superior court for a fee waiver.

 

For State Court forms, visit the California Courts’ Website forms page at: http://www.courts.ca.gov/formsrules.htm

The Judicial Council adopts legal forms in one of two ways. Under Government Code section 68511, the council may “prescribe” certain forms. Use of those forms is mandatory. The council may also “approve” forms. Use of an approved form is not mandatory, but the form must be accepted by all courts in appropriate cases. Forms thus are “adopted” for mandatory use and “approved” for optional use.

Indian Child Welfare

1. What is the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)? (pdf)
(Basic guide for parents and Indian families about the ICWA)

This guide explains what the Indian Child Welfare Act is, why it was passed, and how it applies in California. If you’re a parent or Indian custodian, this guide can help you decide if ICWA applies to your situation, and explains what your rights are if ICWA does apply. It also explains what rights tribes have in your case, if ICWA applies.

2. What is an Indian Custodian? (pdf) (How an individual can be considered an Indian Custodian under the Indian Child Welfare Act. Includes form)

This guide explains what an Indian custodian is. It also explains what responsibilities and rights Indian custodians have. This guide can help you if you are an Indian custodian or you need to become one. This guide can also help you if you are an Indian parent and you think you want someone else to be an Indian custodian for your child. An Indian Custodian Form (“Designation of Indian Custodian”) is attached for you to use.

Housing

Our Housing materials are under construction but for more information regarding Indian Housing programs, please see HUD’s Public and Indian Housing Program page at: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/public_indian_housing

According to their website, the role of the Office of Public and Indian Housing is to ensure safe, decent, and affordable housing; create opportunities for residents’ self-sufficiency and economic independence; and assure fiscal integrity by all program participants.

Family Law

1. Birth Records Self-Help Kit (pdf) Note: This link opens the entire 132 page booklet. Some users have experienced problems when using certain browsers such as Mozilla.  Depending upon the browser you are using you may wish to download individual sections of the booklet for faster access.

(How Native American Adoptees Can Get Their Birth Records in California)

This guide explains what you need to do if you were adopted and you think you are Native American and you live in California and/or were born in California and you want to enroll in your tribe.

2. What is a California Caregivers Affidavit? (pdf)
(How a relative can enroll a child in school & obtain medical care for a child)

This guide can help you if you live with a child, but you aren’t the parent and you don’t have legal custody. It explains how to fill out a Caregiver’s Authorization

Affidavit form and use it to:

  • enroll the child in school
  • help the child get medical care

In this guide, you’ll find:

  • A California Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit form;
  • A Jurat form (for a notary to sign);
  • A “List of People Who Have a Copy of the Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit.”

3. What is an Indian Custodian? (pdf) (Defines Indian Custodian under the Indian Child Welfare Act)

This guide explains what an Indian custodian is. It also explains what responsibilities and rights Indian custodians have. This guide can help you if you are an Indian custodian or you need to become one. This guide can also help you if you are an Indian parent and you think you want someone else to be an Indian custodian for your child. An Indian Custodian Form (“Designation of Indian Custodian”) is attached for you to use.