Serving South Dakota Since 1946

Estate Planning and Estate Administration / Probate

Estate Planning and Estate Administration / Probate

Estate Planning and Estate Administration / Probate

Since its founding in 1946, the Lynn Jackson law firm has firmly believed that trust between attorney and client is at the center of every successful, long-term relationship. This principle of legal representation is the heart and soul of the firm’s Estate Planning Practice Group. The group’s attorneys are second to none in expertise in estate planning and the formation of trusts. These attorneys work with individual clients, clients’ families, and client financial and wealth advisors, to develop individually tailored solutions to address wealth transfer and preservation challenges that reflect the client's aspirations and values.

Given that the firm’s clients are engaged in various endeavors and have a range of assets that require business planning, estate planning, marital planning and real estate planning, Lynn Jackson understands that estate planning is not just about drafting documents.  That is why the Estate Planning Practice Group attorneys collaborate with attorneys in all of the firm’s practice groups to provide comprehensive services to address the unique concerns of each client. These services come with the depth of experience and expertise of a team of attorneys.

Probate Administration

Probate is the court process of proving the validity of a will and distributing assets in accordance with the will's provisions. Probate also occurs when you die without a will and you have assets in your name alone. In summary, probate involves having the court appoint a "personal representative" (South Dakota's term for executor), who will then gather all of a deceased individual's assets, determine any liabilities that need to be paid, and distribute the remaining assets out to the heirs or other beneficiaries (also called devisees) named in the will. Typically, probate takes eight months to a year to complete. One of the reasons that probate takes so long is that, after starting a probate, we have to wait four months for potential creditors to make any claims they may have against the estate.

In South Dakota, if an individual owns more than $50,000 worth of assets or any interest in real property, in his or her name alone, at the time of his or her death, a probate proceeding will be necessary to transfer these assets out of the decedent's name and into the name of the decedent's heirs. A trust can help avoid probate, since assets can be transferred to the trust prior to death and then transferred to the beneficiaries through the administration of the trust after the individual's death rather than through the probate process. Also, beneficiary designations and transfer-on-death or payable-on-death designations can be used to avoid probate.

It is worth mentioning that probate often is not as bad as many believe. In South Dakota, for example, our access to the court system is very good. Hearings can be scheduled on the court calendar fairly quickly, and costs and attorney's fees are often substantially lower than in other jurisdictions. If a probate is uncontested, it can be administered informally, which means that no court hearings are required. Also, probate is a process that provides transparency for heirs and ensures that all of your final bills get paid in a timely fashion.

Estate Planning

Our estate planning and probate lawyers have a wealth of knowledge and experience in drafting estate plans that meet our client’s needs, such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, asset protection plans and business succession plans.

Elder Law, Guardianships, and Conservatorships

One of the hardest life transitions is caring for a loved one that no longer has the ability to care for himself/herself. Lynn Jackson’s attorneys are experienced in supporting our clients through complex and often-times emotional court processes, such as guardianships and conservatorships, which arise when a loved one is incapacitated and needs assistance making financial or health care decisions.

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