Indian Affairs | Division of Probate

Division of Probate

Office of Trust Services - Division of Probate

The primary mission of the Division of Probate is to compile inventories of Indian Trust assets and family information, and to coordinate the timely distribution of trust assets with the Office of Hearings and Appeals, Land Titles and Records Office and the Office of the Special Trustee.

The Division of Probate gathers information regarding decedent’s family and property and prepares it for adjudication by the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA). After OHA issues a probate order the Division works with other trust offices, such as the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians and the Land Titles and Records Office to distribute the assets¹.  

Passage of the Indian Land Consolidation Act (ILCA) of 2000 allowed the DPES and the probate function improvement for proper beneficiary management of trust and restricted property. 

The American Indian Probate Reform Act of 2004 (AIPRA), as amended, changed how trust property, or Indian lands, are distributed and managed by the federal government.

The AIPRA, as amended, had significant amendments that drastically changed how the Federal government operated the DPES program.  One major purpose of AIPRA was to preserve the trust status of Indian lands and to reduce the number of small fractionated landowner interests.

Both laws have had a major influence over how Interior administers its fiduciary trust obligation in the management of trust lands on behalf of trust beneficiaries.