Practice Area: American Indian Wills, Trusts, & Estates

If you own property, a will and other estate planning tools like trusts can make things easier for your loved ones if something happens to you. Planning ahead, just in case, can make it so that you can control what happens with your property. If you don’t plan ahead, a court, usually applying State law, will decide how your property will be distributed.

Smith, Shellenberger and Salazar lawyers, American Indian Wills, Trusts and Estates

Click here to discuss an American Indian estate planning matter with one of our experienced attorneys.

Licensed Jurisdictions


  • Colorado
  • California
  • Arizona
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota

Tribal Courts:

  • Navajo Nation
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Flandreau Santee Sioux
  • Hualapai Tribe
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • Osage Nation
  • Ponca Tribe of Nebraska
  • Southern Ute
  • Ute Mountain Ute








If you own any property as a member of an American Indian Tribe, there is an added difficulty that can be avoided through the use of wills and other estate planning tools.

If you pass without a will, the American Indian Probate Reform Act will determine who receives your trust property, unless the Tribe where your lands are has its own approved laws on probate and inheritance. Only a handful of tribes have such laws, so most Native Americans will have their property distributed according to the federal law. You can circumvent this whole process with a will.

Smith, Shellenberger & Salazar, LLC, will create an estate plan that is specific to you and your family’s needs. Our estate planning attorneys will help you with the administration of both estates and trusts, where their experience will prove valuable in probate court proceedings, defending and/or prosecuting will contests, liquidating assets and debts, the proper distribution of assets, and making sure the appropriate tax returns are completed.

Additionally, our attorneys can provide extremely valuable tax-saving advice that could possibly, depending on your own individual circumstances, ensure that your loved ones will receive everything you wish them to receive from your estate instead of it going to pay exorbitant estate taxes. Most importantly, Smith & Shellenberger, LLC,, will take the time to make sure all of your concerns are alleviated, every question is answered, and your assets are — and will remain — in good hands.