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Moving to South Dakota: Estate Planning

South Dakota allows its residents to pass property a number of different ways.

The first (trick) question to answer is this: Do you have an estate plan? The answer for everyone is "yes!" If you have not created your own will, trust, or other plan to transfer your assets, state law will do it for you. It's called "intestacy," or passing away without a will. In this situation, state law governs who will manage your estate ("personal representative"), and who is entitled to take ("heirs"), among other things.

If you have a will, the next question is this, is it current? This means looking at a number of things, like:

  1. When did you create it?

  2. Was the will drafted when you lived in a different state?

  3. Have you lost or acquired a signifiant amount of real property or other assets since its creation?

  4. Was the will created before you were married or had children?

  5. Has anyone named in the will passed away?

  6. Have there been any notable changes in you tax situation since the will was created?

  7. Have you changed your mind on anything in the will?

This is not a complete list, but if you are not confident that your current will captures your situation and your wishes, it may be time to review it.

A sidenote. With certain conditions and exceptions, South Dakota law recognizes a self-made, handwritten will ("holographic will").

You may have a trust, and you may want to revisit the trust like one may want to revisit their will. A trust is legally recognized as a separate entity able to hold property and pay taxes in its own name. There are many different kinds of trusts used to accomplish different estate planning goals.

One reason many people chose a South Dakota trust is because as a general rule, their assets and their distributions will remain confidential. Wills, for example, must be filed with the Clerk of Courts in any probate, and are generally accessible to the public. Trusts, on the other hand, generally need not be filed and even if they are filed, the records are sealed.

If you're thinking about moving to South Dakota and you want to discuss your estate plan, give us a call. 605-554-1661.

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