Get Answers to Your Highest Priority South Dakota Legal Questions

Swier Law Firm FAQ


Have questions? We have answers! Our South Dakota attorneys answer the questions they hear most often from clients just like you.

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  • How long wlll it take to adopt?

    The time that it takes to adopt a child varies depending on the preferences and restrictions that you have. For example, you may be able to adopt a child from foster care or a child with special needs within a few months, while an international adoption may take years because it may involve multiple adoption agencies and immigration paperwork. If you are unwilling to wait for a long time, you should consider being more flexible in the types of children whom you are willing to consider.

  • How does the State's "Back To Normal" Plan Impact School Districts?

    Under the State of South Dakota's newly-issued "Back to Normal" Plan, each school district should make its own decisions about the remainder of the school year. School districts are encouraged to take steps to contact all students and assess student learning.

  • What happens if someone dies without a Will in South Dakota?

    Our law firm is often asked, “What happens if someone dies without a Will?” The answer is that you will have made very significant (and likely unwise) estate planning decisions. If you die without a Will, South Dakota law dictates who gets your property. These laws are known as the laws of intestate succession.  


    In other words, if you die without a Will, the State of South Dakota has written a Will for you. The State also determines who gets your property, who will manage your estate, and who will serve as guardian of your minor children. Often, the State’s laws in these areas do not reflect what you would have really wanted.    

  • What is a "spendthrift clause"?

    A "Spendthrift Clause" is a clause added to a trust to protect assets in that trust from a beneficiary’s creditors or to prevent assignment of an inheritance before it is received. This can include protection from a spouse in divorce.

    Example: My dad put a spendthrift clause in his trust so even though I was supposed to get distributions already, the trustee won’t give me any money because I’m in the middle of a nasty divorce and they don’t want it taken from me.

  • What does "vesting" mean?

    A "Vested" interest means having an immediate interest in a piece of property or asset that a third party cannot take away. You can have a vested interest in something without yet having it and you can leave that vested interest to someone else in your will or even sell your interest.​

  • What is a "holographic will"?

    A "Holographic Will" is a will that is partially or fully handwritten. Not all states recognize holographic wills. However, South Dakota does recognize holographic wills.

    Example: My grandma wrote a holographic will. She meant to have an attorney type it up, but never got around to it, but we were able to file her handwritten version with the court when she died.

  • What is a "Pour-Over Will"?

    A "Pour-Over Will" is used together with a revocable trust to “pour” any assets that were not in a decedent’s trust at the time of death over to the trust.

    ​Example: My wife and I have formed revocable trusts as part of our estate plan, but we still need to sign Pour-Over Wills for things that aren’t held in our trust when we die.

  • What is a "will contest"?

    A "Will Contest" does not determine who has the best Will, it is a process where someone files a formal objection to a Will. 

    The objection could be for any number of reasons, but the objection must be filed with and heard by the court of the county where probate of the Will is taking place.

    Example: My uncle filed an objection to my grandma’s Will. He says grandma wasn’t competent when she wrote him out of the Will and didn’t know what she was doing.

  • What is an "ancillary administration"?

    ​An "Ancillary Administration" occurs when a probate needs to be opened in another state, generally because a decedent owned real estate or other property there.

    Example:  I had to open an ancillary administration in Illinois for my mom’s estate because she owned land in Illinois. This was necessary for me to pay-off the debt and sell the property in Illinois, but the land and the proceeds from the sale were then reported as part of the probate process in South Dakota.

  • What other estate planning documents should I have?

    Besides a last will and testament or trust, everyone should have a financial power of attorney, health care power of attorney, and a living will.  

    If you want to know more about all 4 of these essential documents, please see our book Estate Planning in South Dakota