Estate Planning

Often families struggle with a loss of a loved one where there hasn’t been any planning. At minimum, this lack of planning costs the family more money than proper planning up front would have. At worst, families can be ripped apart in the fight over the right thing to do or are left bereft of assets they need to make ends meet. One reason that people do not do an estate plan is that they think that they don’t have enough of an estate to make it worthwhile. This is a major misconception. Families with lots of money can afford to waste some of it in unnecessary court proceedings. Families without a lot of money cannot!

How much does Native Will estate planning services cost?

Upon an established relationship with the Indian Nation, SIRE offers free Indian Wills for federally recognized Native American Indians. Free consultation is also available to determine the client’s estate planning needs and an opportunity to make sure our attorney is a good match for you and your family.

What is a will?

A will is a legal document that accurately sets forth the disposition of one’s property/estate upon his/her death. It is only effective after the death of the person who wrote it. At any time before death, the person may still give away or sell his/her property.

The test of whether you need an estate plan is whether you answer yes to any of the following questions:

        • Do you have trust land, non-trust land or personal property?

        • Do you want to leave property to your spouse or to someone who is not in your

           immediate, blood family?

        • Do you have a spouse or unmarried partner with whom you share assets or who is

           dependent on you to make ends meet?

        • Do you have any children or stepchildren under 18?

        • Do you have parents or other family members who depend on your help?

        • Do you have any preference as to how your health care decisions and financial

           decisions get made if you become disabled?

        • Will you someday die?

What are the benefits of estate planning?

        • Maintain independence and dignity if you become disabled

        • Protect minor children and provide for their ongoing care

        • Save family money

        • Avoid family conflict

What is an estate plan?

A good estate plan will have two components. First, the disability plan spells out who will make decisions if you become disabled, what decisions you want made, and how you and your family will be cared for. Second, the death planning spells out how your bills will be paid, your assets divided, and your loved ones cared for when you die.

Perhaps the single most important decision parents of minor children must make in creating an estate plan or updating an estate plan is deciding who they want to take physical custody of their children if they should die. This person can be the same person or a different person than the one who is selected to care for the child’s finances.

What Estate Planning Services are available?

        • Writing a Will

        • Creating a Advance Health Care Directive (i.e. Living Will)

        • Creating a Durable Power of Attorney

        • Creating a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

        • Nomination of Guardianship

A will allows you to:

        • Name a guardian to care for any minor children you have, and a conservator to protect their property interests.

        • Choose the relatives and friends to whom you want your personal and real property to go.

        • Make a charitable bequest to charity of choice

        • Choose a trusted and responsible person to serve as personal representative who will be in charge of the administration and distribution of the estate.

        • Can a will be changed?

        • A will can be changed any time before death. A new will can be written to replace and revoke the old one. A “codicil” (an addition to a will that may change a gift or add a beneficiary) can be used to change just part of your will. Consulting the proper legal authority can do all of these.

        • A will may need to be updated or changed if, after the will is written:

        • You get married, divorced, have children or your financial status is drastically altered.

        • Someone you named in your will recently passed away or became mentally unable to handle personal affairs

        • You recently had or adopted a child

        • You recently purchased or sold property

        • You should have an older will reviewed to be certain it complies with AIPRA

Why should I have an Advance Health Care Directive, Power of Attorney, and/or a Power of Attorney for Health Care?

  • Your express wishes regarding the application of life support will be known.
  • Potential conflicts among your family members regarding the use of life support will be avoided.
  • Durable Power of Attorney and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • Someone chosen by you will be able to make decisions on your behalf.
  • Potential conflicts among your family members about who should make decisions on your behalf, or how they should be made will be avoided.

What is an Advance Health Care Directive (i.e. Living Will)?

An Advance Heath Care Directive is a directive to withhold or provide treatment in the event your health condition becomes such that death is imminent, or you are in a persistent vegetative state, and the application of life-support would only artificially prolong your life

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

A Durable Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to act and make financial decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated or disabled. Temporary custody for children and pets can also be appointed.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care?

A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to give full power and authority to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated or disabled.

Why Native Will?

Native Will’s business model is competition inclusive and Native Will strives to collaborate with the legal community providing estate-planning resources to Indian Country. Because of its narrow scope, Native Will can be a vehicle utilized by public service organizations, like the Institute, or law firms with Indian law interest, to facilitate their objectives and goals in providing legal education and assistance to Native American Indian people resulting in Indian community members making informed decisions about their property rights.

The success of Native Will is measured by Keeping Tribal Lands in Members Hands. The matrix of success includes:

  • Train and educate trust landowners, tribal probate employees, and the legal community of the effects of AIPRA.
  • Provide clients with estate planning options to make the best decision for their greater life goals and transference of their trust and non-trust assets;
  • Reduce the fractionation of trust lands owned by drafting estate planning documents and mediated land consolidation agreements; and
  • Train tribal probate employees and the legal community how to scribe Indian wills.