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Estate Planning

600 E. Tan Tara Circle - Sioux Falls, SD 57108 - 605.335.5740

We are passionate about helping to protect our clients against life’s uncertainties. We help you plan the future of your estate by:

  • Drafting a complete estate plan to provide for your intended beneficiaries
  • Educating you on your options and the benefits of each, from the basic (will, Power of Attorney, Health Care Directive) to advanced plans, such as a trust
  • Simplifying the topic to help you and your family develop a solid understanding and plan of action
     

Frequently Asked Estate Planning Questions

What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a document you sign that grants to another person the authority to handle your personal matters (including where you live and what health care you receive) and your financial and business matters.

Why do I need a power of attorney?

A power of attorney avoids the cost of guardianship and conservatorship proceedings. It also avoids the presentation of facts and opinions regarding your disabilities and financial matters in a public courtroom.

If you have not signed a power of attorney, and you become mentally or physically disabled such that you should no longer be handling such matters, someone will have to commence a lawsuit against you asking a judge to declare you to be incompentent and to give that person the legal authority to handle those matters for you. 

In South Dakota, the lawsuit to declare you to be incompetent and appointing a person to handle your personal matters is called a guardianship. The lawsuit to declare you to be incompetent and appointing a person or entity to handle your financial and business matters is called a conservatorship.

Who should I consider giving the legal authority to handle my matters?

The authority to handle your personal matters should be granted to a person you trust to determine what is best for you in terms of where you live and what health care you receive.

The authority to handle you financial and business affairs should be granted to someone or some entity you trust to determine what is best for you in terms of your financial and business matters.

If you choose to give this authority to one of your children, that child should be able to deal fairly and patiently with possible long-standing sibling rivalries, and try to keep all siblings focused on what is best for you.

What is a living will?

SDCL 34-12, entitled Living Wills, is a statute that says that, unless you have signed a document that says otherwise, when you are so disabled that you can no longer make your own decisions regarding your helath care, your health care providers will do whatever they can to keep you alive, regardless of the cost.

Living Will is the term used in SDCL 34-12 for the document that you sign that says you do not want your health care providers to use extraordinary medical measures to keep you alive if you are brain dead or unconscious. Living Will is not a very good description of the document. It is a health care directive to your health care providers and the perosn you gave in your power of attorney the authority to handle your health issues. It is not a will. It does not pass property upon your death.

SDCL 34-12 states that (a) signing a living will is not suicide, and so does not invalidate life insurance policies that have exclusions for coverage for suicide, (b) following the living will is not assisting suicide and is not murder and (c) following the living will does not disqualify the person following it from inheriting any assets from the deceased or receiving any life insurance policy's death benefits.