GRIC and ASU’s Indian Legal Clinic partner to assist with Estate Planning
October 6, 2023
Gila River Indian News
On Friday, Sept. 29, the Arizona State University (ASU) American Indian Legal Clinic partnered with the Community, where law students assisted with estate planning at the District 5 Service Center.
Eight law students from Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law served 16 Community members by establishing a power of attorney and a last will and testament to aid in their asset planning in the case of an emergency or death.
For Native American families who own land, planning the distribution of land and significant assets among family members remains imperative, given the passing of an individual landowner.
“I encourage everyone to complete a will because it makes the process easier when it comes to homes and assets because without one it forces the Community to make those decisions when it should be made by the individual,” said Laurie Thomas, Director of the GRIC Dept. of Community Services.
Thomas shared that a similar clinic took place in 2022 and found that individuals filled up the registration quickly. She decided that additional clinics were necessary for 2023 and was thankful ASU could commit more students this year.
“ASU is providing such a crucial service for our elders and the students are very supportive and welcoming to everyone,” said Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis. “Establishing a will provides such a great sense of relief for the family and elders here today and I can’t thank ASU’s American Indian Legal Clinic enough for assisting our elders.”
Lt. Gov. Monica Antone also attended and said, “Today is all about future planning and I’m happy when I see the relief it brings to the elders.” Lt. Gov. Antone was pleased with how prepared the elders were and the level of trust in the students to properly handle their documents.
The Four Rivers Indian Legal Services also assisted with the clinic by providing witnesses and notary services to bind the documents legally. Also supporting this effort was the GRIC Enrollment Department, which will securely store the documents for future use.