The primary mission of the Division of Probate Services (DPS) is to compile inventories of Indian Trust assets and family information, and to coordinate the timely distribution of trust assets with the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA), the Division of Land Titles and Records (DLTR), and the Bureau of Trust Funds Administration (BTFA).
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) published revisions to the probate rule on December 20, 2021. These revisions are designed to make the probate process more streamlined.
Who We Serve
DPS gathers information regarding decedent’s family and property and prepares it for adjudication by OHA. After OHA issues a probate order, DPS works with other trust offices to distribute the assets to the designated heirs or beneficiaries.
Services We Provide
About the Division of Probate Services
The Department of the Interior (DOI) is responsible for probating thousands of estates each year for American Indian and Alaska Native individuals who own trust or restricted property.
The Division of Probate Services (DPS) helps to coordinate BIA’s probate program, which has a legal trust and fiduciary obligation and responsibility to protect trust and/or restricted lands, trust assets, resources, and treaty rights of Indian trust landowners and the Tribes it serves.
The American Indian Probate Reform Act of 2004 (AIPRA), as amended, changed how trust property, or Indian lands, are distributed and managed by the federal government.
AIPRA had significant amendments that drastically changed how the federal government operated the probate program. One major purpose of AIPRA was to preserve the trust status of Indian lands and to reduce the number of small, fractionated landowner interests.
Both laws have had a major influence over how DOI administers its fiduciary trust obligation in the management of trust lands on behalf of trust beneficiaries.
In 2021, a rule was also published to clarify ambiguities and to adjudicate probate cases more efficiently.