The American Indian Probate Reform Act of 2006 (AIPRA) provides a probate process for trust assets of American Indians. The goal of AIPRA is to create a more standardized and comprehensive probate process that works toward reducing fractionation of trust and restricted land. Prior to the enactment of AIPRA, the probate of trust assets was governed by the state law where the trust or restricted land was located.
AIPRA provides that any Indian Tribe may adopt its own Tribal probate code to govern the descent and distribution of trust and restricted land that is located within the Tribe’s reservation or otherwise subject to the Tribe’s jurisdiction. Adoption of Tribal probate codes are subject to approval of the Secretary of the Interior.
List of Approved Tribal Probate Codes
AIPRA applies to most American Indian Tribes. AIPRA does not apply to communities in Alaska, the Five Civilized Tribes, or the Osage Nation. Tribes that have approved Tribal probate codes include:
- Aqua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
- Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
- Fond du Lac Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa
- Northern Cheyenne Tribe
- Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
Approved Single Heir Rule Only
For more information or to obtain a copy of an approved Tribal probate code, please contact the Tribes directly.
Begin the Trust Asset Probate Process
Regardless of Tribal membership, the first step to begin the probate process is the same: the death of an American Indian or Alaska Native should be immediately reported to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
To learn more, see the Division of Probate’s guide on how to begin the trust asset probate process.
Albuquerque, NM 87104