Scriveners write wills for Tribal members. They can also complete other documents, such as Durable Powers of Attorney and Advanced Directives for Health Care (Living Wills). Scrivener are not lawyers, but can perform many of the duties of a lawyer for less cost.
Acting under the supervision of an Indian Estate Planning Attorney, they can be an affordable way for the Tribe to assure that members wills meet the provisions of the American Indian Probate Reform Act (AIPRA) of 2004.
Creating a Tribal Scrivener program can help achieve one of the goals of AIPRA: reducing fractionation of Tribal lands and protecting Sovereignty.
How the Tribal Scrivener Program works
The Tribe appoints a person to be the Scrivener. Ideally this person is a Tribal Member and must be a Notary (or can meet the requirements to become one).
Indian Law Attorney Brian Utsey provides 100-150 hours of training to the scrivener including 5 hands-on sessions. He also provides all the needed materials for the training.
After completeing the training, the scrivener can assist Tribal Members to draft wills. Each will is then examined by the attorney to be sure it is legally correct and will stand up in court. For more complex cases, the attorney will be available to advise the scrivener.
Better Wills at a lower cost
The goal is to provide high quality wills to Tribal members at a relatively low cost. The Scrivener is a tribal employee and the whole process helps the goals of AIPRA to reduce Fractionation and protect Tribal Sovereignty. Having a lawyer who is familiar with the special needs of Indian Law gives the Tribe better experience and training.