Legal Services Office Provides Estate Planning Assistance

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On October 16, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s Legal Services Office (LSO) held a presentation on estate planning at Council Member David Antone’s District B Community meeting.

The presentation covered the American Indian Probate Reform Act of 2004 (AIPRA), which made many changes to the way trust or restricted land and property is inherited, as well as other changes about land management and purchases.

“At LSO, we provide our clients with a basic understanding of AIPRA so that they may make educated designations about their Indian land,” said Rebecca Puentes, SRPMIC estate planning scrivener.

The LSO provides trust and estate planning services to the Community and emphasizes the importance of having a will and updating it periodically throughout your life. Community members who have questions as to whether it is appropriate to have a will can call LSO at (480) 362-5670 to go through an intake and discuss their options.

“Once the intake is reviewed and an attorney is assigned, the client is contacted to schedule an appointment,” said Puentes.

“In the meantime, documents are collected to prepare for the appointment, including land inventories. At the first consultation we will ask the client for a list of their heirs or beneficiaries and the designations they would like to make for their Indian land or personal property.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, telephone or video conferencing may be used to make appointments for the LSO. In-person appointments are limited but are available when absolutely necessary. While intakes can be made on a walk-in basis, intakes made by telephone get processed in the same time frame.

“The Legal Services Office is still making the health and safety of our clients a top priority,” said Puentes.

Besides estate planning, LSO also covers basic and common legal problems such as divorce, custody, evictions, civil lawsuits and the probate process.

Keep an eye open for an in-depth look at the probate process at SRPMIC in a future issue of O’odham Action News.

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