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Estate Planning for Northwest Tribes

MOSCOW, Idaho - The University of Idaho College of Law was recently awarded
a grant of $653,020 from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation of Little
Canada, Minn. The money is for a two-year term and will be used to develop
and implement an Indian Estate Planning Project on reservations in Idaho,
Oregon and Washington. Professor Doug Nash, Nez Perce attorney and faculty
member at the College of Law, will direct the project.

The first aspect is to develop a program describing how estate planning can
help in managing all property and real property in particular. Ownership of
trust lands creates unique problems and can delay the time required to go
through federal probate. Training materials are being prepared and will be
available for presentation to Indian tribes, groups and organizations.

Professor Nash explained that legal service programs in the three states
will make contact with each tribe by June 1 to start scheduling meetings.
Third-year law students will be hired to meet with individual tribal
members to help them with estate planning, to explain how wills work, and
to assist with drafting wills if requested. The students will work under
the direct supervision of legal services attorneys.

Professor Nash said that tribal members must consider both federal and
tribal probate. He pointed out that Indian people haven't done a lot of
probate planning in the past and further, that trust property creates
additional considerations. Ways to avoid probate by such methods as gift
deeds and joint accounts will be suggested. Nash commented, "This project
gives us the opportunity to provide a service to Indian people in the
region and, in doing so, we hopefully will be building a model which can be
used to expand that service in future years."

University of Idaho Law Dean Donald Burnett said the project would provide
an important bridge between the legal academy and Northwest tribes. "It
will strengthen the land ownership base of reservation communities while
also providing law students a new perspective on law as an avenue for
public service," he added.

The project is aimed at the three northwestern states but Professor Nash
said he will attempt to arrange for presentations to be given to tribes,
groups or organizations anywhere in the country. Budget restrictions may
place some limitations but the goal will be to help wherever possible
throughout the country. Nash anticipates that after the initial two-year
project is complete the proposal will be expanded to cover a much wider

Professor Nash can be contacted for additional information or scheduling by
e-mail at or by phone at (208) 885-6792 or (208) 249-0043.