Rachel Howell, Realty Director Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Ext. 125
Johnnie Hagan, Probate Specialist Email: email@example.com Ext. 126
Joseph Blanchard, Realty Specialist Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Ext. 127
The primary duties of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe’s Realty Department is being accountable to individual Indian land owners and providing technical assistance, guidance and direction in regards to various land transactions involving Indian trust lands. The types of land transactions include: farming and grazing leases; oil and gas leases; right-of-ways; residential leases and gift deed conveyances of trust property. The Realty Department also provides probate services for Absentee Shawnee tribal members. The overall goal for the Realty Department when working with any type of land transaction is to always work for the best interest of the landowner.
Below is a general breakdown of the service the Realty Department provides on a routine basis.
ACQUISITION AND DISPOSAL: These are land transactions other than a lease or a rental. These include gift deeds of trust lands, land purchases, land sales, and negotiated land sales.
ESTATE MANAGEMENT: The process begins when we learn of a death of an Absentee Shawnee tribal member or any other Indian owning Absentee Shawnee trust property. If the date of death is on or after June 20, 2006 the American Indian Probate Reform Act (AIPRA) will apply. A file is setup, Southern Plains Regional Office (SPRO), Office of Special Trustee (OST) and Land, Titles and Records (LTRO) are notified, the property is places in an estate status and a hold placed on the decedent’s IIM (Individual Indian Monies) account.
PROBATES: The Probate Specialist is responsible for research and preparation of the information and documentation necessary to submit the case file while keeping in compliance with AIPRA, the Federal Probate Code and maintaining confidentiality. Also, communicates with BIA, OHA (Office of Hearing and Appeals), OST, other tribes and agencies and responds to their requests for assistance.
The family’s cooperation is crucial to the submittal process. A death certificate is required and if the decedent executed a Last Will and Testament the original must be submitted with the case. A Family Data form is mailed to family members to be filled out and returned regarding marriages, children, parents and all potential heirs. A property inventory is provided by SPRO.
When all the information & documents are received the case is assembled and submitted to SPRO where it is reviewed and entered into the national probate tracking system (ProTrac) and assigned a case number. The case is then forwarded to the OHA, which hears cases from several states and includes many tribes. After a hearing date is scheduled all interested parties will be notified when and where the hearing will be held, there is no cost to the family and they are not required to attend.
After hearing the Order Determining the Heirs is issued and the case is returned to the Tribal Probate Office. If no appeals are filed after 75 days the probate is closed and all the ownership records are updated to reflect the new ownership and any trust funds disbursed by OST. The length of time from submittal to closing varies; some cases take less than six months others may take up to a year or more depending on the complexity of the case.
ESTATE PLANNING: The Absentee Shawnee Tribe’s Realty Department is no longer able to prepare wills. However, the Oklahoma Indian Legal Services (OILS) has agreed to provide this service free of charge on a semi-annual basis for the Absentee Shawnee tribal members during the months of April and October. The next will clinic will be in April and the time and location will be announced in the future.
AGRICULTURE: The Realty Department is responsible for monitoring and managing the use of all trust property under the jurisdiction of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe for the best interest of the landowners in order to generate and maximize revenue to landowners by placing eligible trust lands into farming and grazing leases. Farming and grazing leases provide the most activity on Indian lands. Proper planning is required and close work with the lessees to develop sound plans for improvements to the property throughout the lease period is necessary. Some of the activities that we encourage, when necessary, are controlled livestock grazing, pond construction, building fences, rotating crops and just promoting good farming and conservation practices.
OIL AND GAS: Although oil and gas production has never been a hot commodity throughout Absentee Shawnee tribal land there has been some recent interest and activity in the past few months.
OTHER: While the above are the primary duties of the major programs under the Realty Department there are other functions we have and that are necessary for us to perform at an acceptable level. Federal regulations and laws are ever-changing and special staff training outside the office is required from time to time. We also attend meetings and work closely with other local, State and Federal agencies such the Bureau of Land Management, Minerals Management, Department of Transportation, Corporation Commission, County Commissioners, State Agriculture Department and County Extension Department.
IIM ACCOUNTS/ADDRESS CHANGES: If you have moved, you will need to contact the Office of Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) and request an address change form. If you do not have a current address on file and you receive money in your IIM account, an automatic hold is placed on your account. You will no longer be able to receive a check until OST receives your new address. Please note that that OST does not process royalty checks (oil & gas) until the amount in the IIM account reaches $5.00 and for farming and grazing leases, the amount is $15.00.
Should you have a question about your IIM account you can contact the OST Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 1-888-678-6836 or online at www.ost.doi.gov.
You will be asked for the first three digits of your IIM account number in order to be transferred to the area that handles your account. If it is an Absentee Shawnee account, the three digit number will be “820”.