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Estate Planning and Probate

ILTF supports estate and land use planning initiatives addressing the growing problem of fractionated ownership on reservations throughout Indian Country including projects that address the probate process, land consolidation, will writing, gift conveyance, rights of way, leasing and other land ownership and management issues.

There is an enormous need in Indian Country for legal expertise on Indian land tenure issues. The ongoing problem of fractionated ownership and the unique circumstances of trust land inheritance and the federal probate process make estate planning for individual landowners essential, and yet most Indian people do not even have wills.

The Estate Planning and Probate initiative was developed to provide legal expertise to Indian people on their reservations with services that may include estate planning, will writing, research, document drafting, and providing education and presentations to tribal members, tribal officials and staff.

In 2011, ILTF received funding from the Administration for Native Americans for the Minnesota Indian Estate Planning Project, a three-year project to provide free community education and estate planning services for tribal members of four Minnesota Indian nations:  Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. In 2012, the Blandin Foundation, which serves rural Minnesota communities, provided additional support for the project.

In 2007, Dakota Plains Legal Services received a grant to provide estate planning and will writing services to members of Indian tribes within the area serviced by Dakota Plains Legal Services in North and South Dakota. To see more information on previous grants, go to the Grantees section of the website.

Grants through the Estate Planning and Probate initiative range from $10,000 to upwards of $100,000.


Grant funding is currently limited. Out of respect for your time, we suggest sending a brief letter of inquiry including the following information:

  • Organization name and contact information (address, phone, email, etc.)
  • Budget range for successful implementation of project
  • Brief description of proposed project and rationale
  • Identify whether or not the proposed project has been discussed with tribal leaders

Send to:  Indian Land Tenure Foundation, Attn: Grants Manager, 151 East County Road B2, Little Canada, MN 55117-1523 or by email to