Estate Planning Clinic: Will Drafting in Indian Country

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will writing clinic
IPLP clinic students and staff visiting the Colorado River Indian Reservation

Mary Guss and Claudia Nelson, Director of the Native Peoples Technical Assistance Office, partnered on a will-writing project with the Allottees Association of the San Xavier District of the Tohono O'odham Nation. From the project start date in June of 2012 students enrolled in the Tribal Estate Planning Clinic: Will Drafting in Indian Country met with members of the Allottees Association of the San Xavier District of the Tohono O’odham Nation and other tribal community allotment holders to write wills and assist in estate planning for their allotted land parcels.

The American Indian Probate Reform Act creates an incentive for Native American allottees to write wills for their land allotments, while assisting tribes in their land consolidation and probate reform efforts. The Estate Planning Clinic met a vital community need, and provided students with valuable experience in estate planning and drafting wills in a wide variety of tribal family and community settings. Students and staff assisted in writing close to 300 wills for community members. In the summer of 2016 the clinic came to a successful conclusion, with the Allottees Association of the San Xavier District taking over many of the will writing functions of the clinic.