Will Writing After AIPRA: An Overview

American Indian Probate Reform Act governs the passage of Trust or Restricted lands, procured under federal authority and through a Treaty based allocation system. Like Mark Vezzola points out, navigation through the legal system is problematic when “[f]inding a lawyer to explain one’s trust land interests and draft the Will can be a challenge.” (#justicematters) Personal property within a house or the house itself must be passed to children and grandchildren separately, since only the land succession is addressed in the AIPRA.

Mark Vezzola, Directing Attorney at the California Indian Legal Services, shares his substantial knowledge with readers at the mobile friendly web-based Educational Family Estate Apps as part of its Guest Writer Series (http://educationalfamilyestateapps.com/guest-writer-series/). His article is titled, “Will Writing After AIPRA – An Overview Of Estate Planning For Trust Assets.”

What is needed when a Testator owns both Trust and non-Trust property? Mark has seen clients with two Wills, one to cover each kind of property (your Trust assets versus everything else), and others whose last will and testament includes both kinds of assets . In a state context, avoidance of probate should be priority, since it is both costly and produces needless delay. Probates of Indian trust assets can be avoided through gift deeds, otherwise estates of Indian landowners are administered by the Office of Hearings and Appeals. As a parent or grandparent, when minor children are involved it is important to know how voluntary legal Guardianship can place your mind at greater ease about the care of your family members when you can’t.

CILS Receives the California Bar Foundation Public Interest Legal Fellowship Grant

Escondido, CA – October 26, 2016: CILS is pleased to announce a Public Interest Legal Fellowship Grant from the California Bar Foundation, in support of our Tribal Court development program in our Bishop Office. This program provides training for tribes in the Bishop service area.

The California Bar Foundation Public Interest Legal Fellowship Program funds diverse law students and attorneys to serve low-income clients in rural communities. The grant objective was to build a pipeline of diverse attorneys for rural legal aid agencies in California. This fellowship program addresses CalBar Foundation’s top priorities: improving access to justice for all Californians, and supporting diverse recent law graduates and law students who are committed to becoming public interest attorneys.

CalBar funded our summer fellow, Laura Neacato, for our Bishop Office and now has partnered with CILS again for a one year fellow. One of the primary projects the fellow will be focused on is Tribal Court development. Currently, the Bishop Paiute Tribe is the only tribe in the Owens Valley area that has a Tribal Court.

Jasmine Andreas, Directing Attorney of the CILS Bishop Office, stated, “our core area of practice is federal Indian law. Our Bishop Office not only houses our Indian law program but also provides basic field non-Indian legal services to low-income and elderly clients. The Bishop Office is located in a remote area of the Eastern Sierra, Inyo County, which creates its own challenges to clients in need of legal assistance.”

“Having been in existence for almost 50 years demonstrates CILS’ commitment to a diverse, inclusive staff and work environment,” said Dorothy Alther, CILS Executive Director. “Numerous attorneys at CILS came to us through an internship or fellowship program. Because of our unique and special legal service population (Indian law) and that our work will take attorneys into extremely remote and isolated communities, it is imperative for new attorneys to have some prior experience with who we are, who we serve and where they will be meeting their clients.”

TRIBAL ALERT: Support Tribal Access to National Crime Databases


IMPORTANT NOTICE— the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) is expanding the Tribal Access Program (TAP), which allows qualified tribes to access national crime databases for both criminal and civil purposes.  The TAP program is being implemented in phases with the current phase open to tribes who authorize the enforcement of tribal criminal law or who hold a Deputation Agreement with the Office of Justice Service.  The TAP program will allow tribal law enforcement access to criminal background information on criminal detainees and suspects and also allow tribal agencies to request, through the tribal police department, criminal information for non-criminal purposes such background checks for staff, housing applicants, and potential foster care placements for dependent children.  Please see the attached announcement for more information on the TAP’s scope, expansion, and requirements.

There is a deadline of December 2, 2016 for tribes to apply for the TAP program.  CILS is encouraging all qualified tribes interested in accessing criminal information for criminal and non-criminal purposes to consider applying.  While DOJ may not have the resources to approve all tribes seeking the TAP program,  an outpour of application from California tribes will demonstrate the need for greater access and for future funding to continue the program’s expansion.

The DOJ’s TAP website also lists a series of webinars, to provide information to tribes considering the TAP, on the below dates and times (Eastern time).  They ask that tribes email TAP.App@usdoj.gov to sign up for these webinars or to join the TAP listserv for future information/announcements.

Tuesday, October 25 at 11 am EST

Thursday, October 27 at 2 pm EST

Monday, October 31 at 1 pm EST

Wednesday, November 2 at 10 am EST

Tuesday, November 22, at 3 pm EST

Monday, November 28, at 11 am EST

Thank you for your support!  If you have any questions, please contact Jedd Parr at jparr@calindian.org or (916) 978-0960 x 308.