Published On: Mon, Aug 15th, 2011

Cherokee descendants’ will case going to court

By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.

ONE FEATHER STAFF

 

                Tribal Council has upheld a protest that sends an issue over a will to Cherokee Tribal Court.  The protest was submitted by four heirs of the late Gladys Wright, an EBCI tribal, whose will was deemed invalid by Tribal Council in July causing her land to revert back to the Tribe. 

                Resolution No. 797 (2011), the protest resolution submitted by the heirs, states, “Be it further resolved that this resolution be taken to Cherokee Tribal Court to determine the validity of all documents.”  It was passed by Tribal Council on Aug. 4. 

                Gladys A. Wright, an EBCI tribal member, passed away in September 2009.  She left a Last Will and Testament in 2003 which did not address possessory holdings or life estate for her non-enrolled children.  In 2007, she produced a second will which left her children (Henry Wright Jr., Kathryn Jasper, William Wright and Elizabeth Jo Poscich) “first generation rights for their lifetime my possessor holding in Cherokee County”.  The land in question, Cherokee County Tract #35, contains 205 acres. 

                While the 2003 will doesn’t specifically address possessory holdings, it does state, “Item II:  All property which I own, or of which I may have the right to dispose of at the time of my death, both real and personal, I give, devise and bequeath to my children…” 

                According to the original resolution [Res. No. 778 (2010)] passed on  July 14 and submitted by the EBCI Office of the Attorney General, the 2007 will is invalid due to the fact that it does not contain witness signatures, only that of the Notary Public. 

                “What belongs in the court is the issue on the will,” said Painttown Rep. Terri Henry.  “Yes, that’s the proper place for it.  In the July session of Council when this first came up that was what I stated was that the Council was being asked to make a determination on a will that we are not competent in the sense of this is not a judicial body.  We don’t have that jurisdictional authority to make a decision about a legal question in respect to wills.  That is clearly a function of the court system.” 

                A court date on the issue had not been set as of press time. 

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