Official website of the U.S. government

Skip to main content

Bureau of Indian Affairs

Department of the Interior seal

Department of the Interior


The Bureau of Indian Affairs' (BIA) mission is to enhance the quality of life, to promote economic opportunity, and to carry out the responsibility to protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians, Indian tribes and Alaska Natives. Within the government-to-government relationship, the Bureau of Indian Affairs provides services directly or through contracts, grants, or compacts to 567 Federally recognized tribes with a service population of roughly 1.9 million American Indian and Alaska Natives. BIA is also responsible for the administration and management of 55 million surface acres and 57 million acres of subsurface minerals estates held in trust by the United States.

Designated Services

Accessing a probate order


Upon the death of an individual who owned trust assets, family members, tribes, or any interested party can contact the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to initiate a probate hearing and receive a probate order for the distribution of assets. This service is essential for upholding the trust responsibilities of the Department of the Interior, and BIA’s work to ensure that probate cases are accurately and timely prepared and submitted contributes to maintaining current and accurate ownership records for trust assets.

Receiving trust assets


Once a probate order is issued, the distribution of assets allows heirs to benefit from their new holdings. The accurate and timely distribution of assets through probate orders ensures that new owners can maintain ownership rights to the land, enabling heirs to make informed decisions about the land in which they hold an interest. BIA works to ensure that assets are effectively distributed to identified heirs, transferring what is rightfully theirs and providing some sense of closure for the passing of a loved one.

Action Plans