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South Dakota Estate Planning

Most adults in South Dakota don't have a last will and testament or other basic estate planning tools. But don't wait until you're retired to think about your estate planning needs. An attorney can help you assess your immediate estate planning needs—as well as those which will benefit you later in life.

Estate Planning: Not Just for the Elderly

Most people mistakenly believe that estate planning is just for people who are rich or old, but nothing could be further from the truth. That's because estate planning deals with far more than just death—it also helps you manage your legal, financial and medical affairs. Let's look at why all adults can benefit from estate planning.

The last will and testament is probably the best-known estate planning tool, and for good reason. Under South Dakota law, anyone who is at least 18 years old and "of sound mind" (capable of rational decisionmaking) can create a will. And most people can benefit from a will. A last will allows you to:

  • Leave instructions for how your estate—money, real estate and other possessions—should be distributed after your death
  • Name an executor to oversee your estate after your death and carry out the instructions in your will
  • Designate a legal guardian for your minor children in the event that both you and your children's other parent die before the child is 18 years old

Some people opt for a living trust instead of a last will or in addition to a last will. A trust is a legal entity into which you transfer assets, such as money and property. While you are alive, you can use those assets as you see fit. After your death, the money transfers to your beneficiaries according to your instructions. Because a living trust operates outside of the probate system, your heirs can receive their inheritances more quickly and more privately than if you have a last will and testament.

A financial power of attorney is an estate planning document that benefits you while you're alive. This document lets you name an attorney in fact who can perform certain legal and financial tasks—such as signing contracts and paying bills—on your behalf. A power of attorney ceases to be effective upon your death.

Two estate planning documents give you greater control over your healthcare and medical treatment. A healthcare power of attorney lets you designate someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you're unable to communicate with doctors. And a living will is used to explain your end-of-life treatment decisions, including whether you'd like artificial resuscitation and being kept alive on life support.

Find & Hire Local South Dakota Estate Planning Attorneys

Whether you live in Sioux Falls or Rapid City, Aberdeen or Brookings, or elsewhere in South Dakota, can help you quickly locate nearby estate planning lawyers and probate attorneys. To use our free, no-obligation lawyer referral service, complete the form on this page or phone us at 877-913-7222. After you answer a few brief questions, we'll connect you with lawyers in your area.