You want to ensure that the assets of your business are preserved for your loved ones. Business succession planning allows you to make your wishes clear, and for a smooth transition should one or more of the shareholders or owners pass away or become incapacitated. If you are establishing a business or currently own a business operating in the Navajo Nation, ensure that you have the right protections in place so that your family or other beneficiaries will gain the benefit of your hard work.
How do you protect the assets of a business? There are very complex laws governing the distribution land on the Navajo Nation, and business owners face unique risks if operating a business owning property. As Indian business and estate planning attorneys, we advise that every business owner take the following steps:
- Have a full evaluation of your business interests, and all other property as soon as possible.
- Put a will in place that names your chosen beneficiaries of a trust or restricted property.
- Create a life estate or other appropriate form of asset protection.Have your estate plan crafted to be in compliance with the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) and the American Indian Probate Reform Act (AIPRA).
Ensure you have a financial Power of Attorney in place business decisions should you become incapacitated.
Estate Planning Challenges for Navajo Business Owners
Due to the IRA and AIPRA, there are more challenges involved in protecting assets for First Nation people. If a person dies intestate (without a will), the problems become very serious, as some properties will pass back to the Tribe. Individually owned trust land, restricted land, or fee status land will pass under the Single Heir Rule — without a will, trust, or other type of estate plan, your interest could pass to a single recipient, not directed by you.
Attorney C.J. Lee works with First Nation business owners to sort out the complex issues and ensure that the persons you want to inherit your interests do so. Many different laws and jurisdictions come into play in probate for Navajos, including federal law for certain types of assets. Our experience and breadth of knowledge can help you to establish a plan that protects your assets for those that you love.