25 U.S. Code § 640d–28 - Life estates
Any Navajo head of household who desires to do so may submit an application for a life estate lease to the Commissioner. Such application shall contain such information as the Commissioner may prescribe by regulation, such regulation to be promulgated by the Commissioner within ninety days of July 8, 1980. To be considered, such application must be filed with the Commissioner on or before April 1, 1981: Provided, That the Commissioner may, for good cause, grant an extension of one hundred and eighty days.
The Commissioner shall have authority to award life estate leases to not more than one hundred and twenty applicants with first priority being given to applicants listed pursuant to subsection (c)(A) and the next priority being given to the applicants listed pursuant to subsection (c)(B), in order of such listing.
Each life estate lease shall consist of a fenced area not exceeding ninety acres of land which shall include the life tenant’s present residence and may be used by the life tenant to feed not to exceed twenty-five sheep units per year or equivalent livestock. The Secretary, under existing authority, shall make available to life estate tenants such assistance during that tenure, as may be necessary to enable such tenant to feed such livestock at an adequate nutritional level.
No person may reside on a life estate other than the life tenant, his or her spouse, and minor dependents, and/or such persons who are necessarily present to provide for the care of the life tenant. The Commissioner shall promulgate regulations to carry out the intent of this subsection.
The life estate tenure shall end by voluntary relinquishment, or at the death of the life tenant or the death of his or her spouse, whichever occurs last: Provided, That each survivorship right shall apply only to those persons who were lawfully married to each other on or before July 8, 1980.
Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting any such applicant who receives a life estate lease under this section from relinquishing, prior to its termination, such estate at any time and voluntarily relocating. Upon voluntary relinquishment of such estate, by such means or instrument as the Secretary shall prescribe, such applicant shall be entitled to relocation benefits from the Secretary comparable to those provided by section 640d–14 of this title. For life estates terminated by the death of the life tenant or his or her surviving spouse, compensation shall be paid to the estate of the deceased life tenant or surviving spouse based on the fair market value of the habitation and improvements at the time of the expiration of such tenure and not before. Such payment shall be in lieu of any other payment pursuant to subsection (a) of section 640d–14 of this title. Assistance provided pursuant to section 640d–14(b) of this title, shall be paid to any head of household lawfully residing on such life estate pursuant to subsection (f) of this section who is required to move by the termination of such life estate by the death of the life tenant and his or her surviving spouse and who does not maintain a residence elsewhere. Compensation under section 640d–14(a) of this title shall be paid and distributed in accordance with the last will and testament of the life tenant or surviving spouse or, in the event no valid last will and testament is left, compensation shall be paid and distributed to his or her heirs in accordance with existing Federal law. Upon termination of a life estate by whatever means, the dependents residing with the individuals having such life estate so terminated shall have ninety days following such termination within which to relocate.
The Secretary shall pay, on an annual basis, the fair market rental value of such life estate leases to the tribe to whom the lands leased were partitioned.
Nothing in this subchapter or any other law shall be construed to prevent a life tenant from making reasonable improvements on the life estate which are related to the residence and agricultural purposes of the life tenancy.
The Commissioner is authorized to grant not to exceed ten additional life estate leases to Hopi heads of household residing on Navajo-partitioned lands under such terms of this section as may be appropriate.
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