With the approval of the Secretary of the Interior or authorized delegate, heirs who receive undivided interests in restricted property may partition (divide) the property. When the partition is complete, each heir will have complete title to an individual lot from the original property.
All owners must have title to the restricted property, which is confirmed by Probate decision, or other approved conveyance document.
The following steps are the procedures for a partition:
1. Initial Contact: Submit a request in writing indicating your interest to partition. Also, provide names, addresses and phone number(s) of the other heirs who also own title to the property. Once the request is received, a Realty Specialist will be assigned to the transaction.
2. Application & Counseling: The Realty Specialist will follow up with all landowners to discuss the partition process as well as the other options that may be available to you, and will provide you with an application, call the Petition to Partition, which must be completed by all owners and returned.
3. Subdivision: A formal subdivision of the property by a surveyor is required to ensure that each owner receives a lot whose size and value is commensurate to their ownership interest. The BIA does not have funds to assist with the cost of the subdivision.
4. Appraisal Request (if necessary): Once a preliminary plat is available, an appraisal can be requested to ensure that the value of each lot is commensurate with the prospective owner’s property interest. The Appraisal and Valuation Services Office can do the appraisal at no cost to the landowners, but it can take 18 months to two years to receive the appraisal report. Landowners may waive the right to an appraisal, however, if the land is staying in restricted status, will be equal in value, and there are no improvements on the property, and none of the landowners has a concern about the potential values of any particular lot in the subdivision being greater or less than another.
5. Archeological Inventory Request: An archeological inventory may be necessary and will be conducted by the BIA Archeology staff. The Realty Specialist assigned to your case will request a review from the Branch of Archeology. A recommendation from Archeology to proceed with the subdivision is required.
6. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Compliance: Compliance with NEPA regulations is required. The Realty Specialist will complete a checklist to determine whether a Categorical Exclusion can be used for the transaction, or whether an Environmental Assessment (EA) is needed. If there will be any development of the property as a result of the subdivision, an EA may be required, and if appropriate, a “Finding of No Significant Impact” published either in local newspapers or posted locally. The Realty Specialist handling the transaction will determine who will prepare the Environmental Assessment document.
7. Timber Clearance or Permit Request (if applicable): A Timber report may be required if there are is any marketable timber that would be lost as a result of the partition.
8. Re-counsel & Finalize documents: When all of the required reviews have been completed, the Realty Specialist will contact each of the landowners to confirm that everyone wants to move forward with the partition, and will prepare deeds for each heir to sign, exchanging the undivided interests in the parcels as agreed.
9. Report of Investigation: After the signed deeds are received, the Realty Specialist will prepare a Report of Investigation with the details of the transaction, and a recommendation for the transaction which will be submitted to the Regional Director or other authorized official.
10. Decision: The Regional Director or other authorized official will review the transaction and make a decision to either approve or disapprove the request.
a. If approved, the deeds will be signed by the Regional Director or other authorized official and returned to the Realty Specialist. The Specialist will forward the deeds to the BIA Land Title and Records Office (LTRO) for recording, and then record with the appropriate State Recorder’s Office. The original deeds will be returned to the landowners after recording.
b. If disapproved, the landowner(s) will be notified of the action taken.
Any affected parties can appeal the decision, and will be informed of the appeal procedures.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Bureau of Indian Affairs Alaska Region
Real Estate Services
3601 C Street, Suite 1200 MC-304
Anchorage, Alaska 99503-5947
(800) 645-8465, Extension 2-1