Our law firm has served the Dell Rapids area since 1891, providing the dedication and services you need for what matters most: planning for today and the future.
Allen joined the firm in 1961. Allen practiced primarily in estate planning, probate, real estate and income tax. Allen retired August 19, 2016.
Max joined the firm in 1977. Max practices primarily in estate planning, probate, real estate and income tax. He serves on the Board of Trustees for the University of Sioux Falls and as a legal counsel for DeSmet Farm Mutual Insurance Company.
Dean joined the firm in 1992. Dean practices primarily in estate planning, probate, real estate and income tax. He is the City Attorney for the City of Dell Rapids.
Josh is the newest team member who joined the firm in July 2015. Josh practices primarily in estate planning and probate, business and tax planning, real estate transactions and income tax. He has a LLM (Masters of Tax Law) from the University of Denver.
Vicki joined the firm in Febrary of 1988. She is the Administrative/Office Manager.
Carolyn joined the firm in April of 2016 as a Part-time Administrative Assistant.
Summer Administrative Assistant
Your Last Will and Testament is a written document that directs who receives your property after your death. It does not usually control insurance or other assets that have named beneficiaries or surviving owners. If you do not have a will, your estate will be distributed to your heirs according to South Dakota intestate succession laws.
A Will allows you to nominate guardians or conservators for minor children. To execute a Will in South Dakota you must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. A Will should be typed, signed, dated and witnessed by two or more individuals.
Every adult should have a will. A basic Will is relatively simple and inexpensive, yet it can allow a much smoother transfer of your property after your death.
A trust is a document that you use to transfer ownership of your property to a trustee, who will own and manage the property for the benefit of others, including yourself. A trust is an excellent way to let someone else manage your property when you are no longer able or willing to do so. You can also use a trust to control assets transferred to your adult children until they reach a certain age. The trustee can be a friend, family member, a bank or trust company, or any adult person you choose. In some cases you can name yourself as the trustee.
There are several types of trusts that you can use for different reasons. Some trusts are created at death under the terms of your will. This is called a testamentary trust. Another type of trust is set up while you are living. This is called a living trust. A living trust can be revocable, meaning it can be cancelled by you at any time before your death. Irrevocable trusts are often used to remove assets from your estate prior to death, but with an irrevocable trust you lose some control over those assets.
Revocable Living trusts have grown in popularity as an estate planning tool. But we do feel they have been somewhat oversold to people who would have been better served with basic wills and by holding property in joint tenancy. It is important to remember that you cannot use a revocable living trust to avoid income tax or claims by your creditors. A revocable living trust will not allow you to qualify for Medicaid assistance.
One advantage of living trusts is that if set up properly, your heirs can reduce the time and expense of probate. But you only avoid those costs and delays if all of your assets are placed in the trust. Another advantage is that a living trust can manage your assets if you become incompetent thus avoiding a conservatorship to manage your assets. It is also believed that a living trust is more difficult to challenge than a Will and that the living trust can be kept more confidential. We usually recommend a living trust if you own out-of-state real property.
Some of our clients are better served by a trust but for others it is an unnecessary expense. It all depends on your individual circumstances.
Probate is a legal process that takes place after someone dies. It includes:
Your personal representative must find, secure and manage your assets during the probate process, which commonly takes less than a year. Depending on the contents of your Will, and on the amount of your debts, the personal representative may have to decide whether or not to sell your real estate, securities or other property.
If you die without a will, your estate is distributed according to our laws of intestate succession. This means that your property will generally be distributed to your surviving spouse and other heirs depending on their relationship to you and the size of your estate. Having a Will simplifies the distribution of your property. With a Will you nominate a personal representative who will distribute your property according to your will. If there isn't a Will, or the Will fails to name a living personal representative, the family may nominate someone to handle the process -- most often the closest capable relative, or the person who inherits the bulk of your assets.
In South Dakota you can pass up to $50,000 of property without probate by using the small estate affidavit. In addition, property that passes outside of your Will (through joint tenancy or a living trust) is not subject to probate.
A durable power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint an agent who can manage your affairs if you become incapacitated. With a durable power of attorney, your agent can manage your financial affairs, make health care decisions, or conduct other business for you. The Durable Power of Attorney must be executed before you become incapacitated. It is important to remember that an agent's power under a durable power of attorney ceases at the death of the principal.
The power of attorney form can be either general or limited. The general power of attorney is by far the most common. It uses broad language that allows your agent to legally do anything that you could do unless a contrary intent is plainly apparent. The limited power of attorney covers specific events like selling real estate, making specific investments or making health care decisions.
The biggest decision in drafting a durable power of attorney is deciding who you want to act as your agent. It is normally a family member or close friend who you would trust to carry out your wishes. You should always ask that person first to see if he or she is willing to serve as your agent.
Like a basic will, we believe that everyone should have a durable power of attorney. It is relatively simple and inexpensive to create, yet it can avoid the costs and complications of having a court appointed guardian or conservator if you should become incapacitated.
A living will is a document that gives instructions to your physician as to whether or not you wish to have life sustaining treatment administered if you are in a terminal condition. This is different from a durable power of attorney because you are not appointing an agent to make this decision. Rather, it is your written directive to a physician that covers only life sustaining treatment. Once you have signed a living will, it is important that you notify your physician, family members or religious advisor and let them know where to find this document. You can amend or revoke your living will at any time.
On July 1, 2001, South Dakota eliminated our state inheritance tax. Although there is no longer a state inheritance tax, we still have a state and federal estate tax for persons who die with more than $5,000,000 in assets.
If you have more than $5,000,000 in assets, including life insurance and annuities, it is very important that you talk to your attorney or financial advisor to help reduce or eliminate your state and federal death tax liability.