Estate Planning Services


Institute Projects

Department of Interior Pilot Project

In August 2005, the Institute, through the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, received a one year $519,634 contract to provide estate planning services in the Northwest and Great Plains Regions.  The pilot project funded four attorneys and two paralegals who provided direct community education and legal estate planning services on Washington and South Dakota reservations. The contract also provided partial funding for three regional symposiums which trained attorneys and governmental officials on AIPRA and Indian Estate Planning.

The purpose of the federal pilot project was to measure the results of community education on estate planning, to weigh the need for estate planning services in Indian Country and to determine if fractionation of land ownership interests would be reduced through those services. The program was an overwhelming success with more than 1,400 receiving estate planning training or information, and over 1,100 individuals receiving estate planning legal services with those individuals holding more than 8,000 fractionated land interests.  A copy of the final report on the pilot project is available on this website.

The services provided by the staff hired in South Dakota have been continued with funding provided by the ILTF and in Washington, with support provided by ILTF and the Northwest Justice Project.  Recent grants received from the Paul Allen Foundation and the Bush Foundation will support the continuation of those services.


University of Idaho Project (serving Tribes in WA, OR, ID and MT)

One of the first estate planning projects funded by the ILTF, the University of Idaho Indian Estate Planning Project has placed dozens of legal externs at numerous reservations in Washington, Oregon and Idaho over a three year period. The project annually funds six to eight law students who then work closely with reservation communities for a 10 week summer.  Externs undergo a week of intensive training on the American Indian Probate Reform Act, Indian probate law, document drafting and working with reservation communities.   Externs have been housed and supervised by Northwest Justice Project in Washington and Idaho Legal Aid Services in Idaho.  Cumulatively, the summer externs have held community education meetings for 1,326 individuals, drafted more than 620 wills and more than 350 other estate planning documents with a client waiting list of 280 individuals. This externship model proved an efficient method for training young attorneys and providing tribal communities with cost effective, supervised legal services. Four tribes have offered financial support for extern estate planning services on their reservations.  The project will move into its fourth year of operation in the summer of 2007, expanding services to tribes in Montana.


Dakota Plains Legal Services (serving Tribes in South Dakota)

In 2003, DPLS received another of the first estate planning grants issued by the ILTF.   Since this time, DPLS has been providing estate planning services to tribal members on reservations in South Dakota. Over the four year period, DPLS has provided community education and drafted hundreds of wills, gift deeds, consolidation agreements and durable powers of attorneys which have helped over a thousand Indian clients further consolidation of Indian trust lands. In 2007, grant funds from the ILTF and the Bush Foundation will allow this important work to continue for another year.

Anishnabe Legal Services (serving Tribes in Minnesota)

A two-year grant award is being developed to fund two half-time attorney positions to provide estate planning services on the White Earth and Leech Lake Reservations in Minnesota.   Information and details will be provided here when the award is finalized.

University of Wisconsin Law School (serving Tribes in Wisconsin)

In 2006, the ILTF provided a one year grant to the Great Lakes Indian Law Center for the placement of six student externs on six reservations in the Great Lakes and Plains regions to work on estate planning and land issues. 

Pro Bono Resources

Currently being updated, please check back soon.

Legal Services and Private Attorneys

The following is a courtesy list of providers who have submitted interest in being listed or attended one of the Institute’s trainings. While we strive to provide a reference list of attorneys with familiarity in the federal laws and trust lands, the Institute cannot make any express or implied warranty for the legal or professional expertise listed, nor the individuals expertise or abilities, nor client outcome for the particular case.






South Dakota


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