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How Much Does A South Dakota Trust Typically Cost?

Written by
Amber Hobert
Published on
September 16, 2022
Table of Contents

Cost Of A South Dakota Trust

Are you planning to establish a South Dakota trust? Doing so is an excellent decision because having a living trust will allow you to create a strong estate plan and protect all your assets after you die. Living trusts in South Dakota have favorable laws that give you a chance to securely house all your assets and have massive control over your wealth distribution.

In estate planning, states have distinct estate taxes and other laws that affect how a trust works. Unlike most other states, South Dakota's trust laws are more structured. This makes it easy for living trusts in the state to flourish. There are costs involved in establishing a trust in any state.

However, the prices are not the same, so you need to research the expenses charged in the state you want to establish your living trust. So, how much does a South Dakota trust cost? This article focuses on this; however, let's first look at reasons to establish a trust in South Dakota.

Why Is A Living Trust Important?

Estate planning is a critical part of your financial planning process. When done correctly, it makes it easy for you to manage, organize and pass down your wealth to your beneficiaries per your terms. Trusts are beneficial resources for any estate plan, and where you house them makes a significant difference in how they function over the years.

South Dakota offers trustees, beneficiaries, and grantors great benefits to protect the assets for many years to come. With a living trust in South Dakota, you get to avoid probate, a process in which the court supervises the distribution of your assets when you die.

Probate tends to be a costly and lengthy court process that might delay the distribution of your wealth to your beneficiaries. In the same vein, a living trust permits you to save on money you would have otherwise spent on probate expenses.

It also prevents issues that might arise when people come forward to claim some of your assets. Other benefits of a living trust include the protection of your privacy, and you will have peace of mind knowing that your wealth is well managed even after your demise.

Why Is SD A Great State To House Your Trust?

Friendly taxes

One of the main reasons to establish a living trust in South Dakota is that the tax burden is less. This is primarily due to the fact that South Dakota does not charge state income tax. Consequently, all the money in private trusts is not taxed even if you generate income that has a massive effect on your account balance. All your gains or income are not taxed until the time of distribution.

In addition, there are no charges on capital gains for all your trust assets. Therefore, your trust grows in value but remains tax-free. This is a critical wealth-building benefit. However, you should still be aware of South Dakota's inheritance and estate tax regulations.

Enhanced privacy

Generally, trusts allow for enhanced privacy in estate planning. This is the case because most of them don't involve public proceedings of your estate and all the assets. However, privacy is not guaranteed at all times because every state has different laws on how trusts operate.

South Dakota is unique since it enhances the privacy of trusts, which further protects the grantor's wishes and wealth. The courts usually seal all the records related to a given trust and its details, including the value, the grantor, and all those benefiting from it.

Thus, your estate plan is out of the public eye, reserving it to you and your beneficiaries. Another exceptional law is that you can restrict notice of the trust to your chosen beneficiaries during your lifetime. This simply means that you are not required to tell your beneficiaries or anybody anything regarding the trust until you decide to.

Thus, your heirs might not know about the trust for years before you pass away. In this regard, you do not have to inform anyone about the trust. This adds to your privacy and protection when creating and funding the trust.

The trust never expires (perpetual)

South Dakota has an excellent perpetuity rule since your living trust never expires. This makes it possible for trusts to serve as a passed-down family heirloom for as long as the money lasts. In most states, a rule restricts trusts to a lifespan of around eighty to a hundred years, better known as The Rule Against Perpetuities.

In South Dakota, all the assets you place in the trust last forever. Thus, as long as you have assets in your trust that can maintain the structure, your trust can last for hundreds of years. This rule paves the way for generational wealth as the beneficiaries are not subjected to federal inheritance tax.

You enjoy complete control of your trust

In South Dakota, you can make changes to any trust provision without needing to notify your beneficiaries or other parties. You do not have to file a notice with governing bodies, facilitating smooth planning during your lifetime.

The laws in South Dakota allow you to change, decant or change the trust, making the process more flexible, which is not the case with irrevocable trusts. Decanting simply means creating another trust, which you can do at a lower cost in South Dakota than in other states.

More asset protection

One significant thing about wealth maintenance is the ability to protect it. South Dakota offers excellent clauses on asset protection that help protect the assets in your trust. There are laws protecting your assets from business partners, ex-spouses, creditors, business partners, and others.

When creditors are concerned, the state offers a two-year look-back provision, which is the shortest in the country. Therefore, after two years, creditors cannot come for your assets. This gives you more flexibility, control, and protection over your assets.

Creating A Living Trust In South Dakota

Here are the steps to undertake when creating a living trust in South Dakota.

Step One: Select a trust suitable for your financial situation

If you are single, you should use an individual trust. However, if you are married, you should go for South Dakota's joint trust. With a joint trust, you can decide to have both separate and shared property in the trust for you and your spouse. On the other hand, you can both opt for two individual trusts.

Step Two: Take an inventory of all your assets

It's essential to take an inventory of your property to determine the contents of your trust. For example, take an inventory of your retirement accounts, stocks, bank accounts, and real estate. This stock take is a necessary step because it will allow you to have a clear understanding of what you have in your trust and what your beneficiaries will enjoy once you are gone.

Step Three: Pick your trustee

You should then select a wealth and trust company to help manage your trust. If you act as the trustee, you need to choose a successor trustee to oversee your estate after your death or if you become incapacitated.

Step Four: Creation of a trust document

After picking the trustee, you should create a trust document. You can opt for an online program or hire a trustworthy estate planning lawyer to help you in the process and ensure you don't make a mistake.

Step Five: Notarize the trust document

You are then required to sign the trust before a notary public.

Step Six: Transfer your property to the trust

Transferring your property into the trust requires paperwork, but it is easy for your trustee to distribute your wealth successfully to all the beneficiaries chosen when you die.

The Total Cost Of Creating A Living Trust In SD

Several factors determine the cost of creating a living trust in South Dakota. There are several options, and your chosen method determines the overall cost. If you decide to make the trust yourself, it will be less costly than hiring an attorney to help. However, there are also risks involved in creating the trust yourself, making the latter option more reliable.

Factors affecting the cost include:

Trust attorney

Ideally, you should hire a living trust attorney to help you in the process, especially if you have no legal know-how. This is a safer alternative as your attorney will speed up the process and ensure no mistakes are involved. However, as already mentioned, this is a costlier option since you have to pay a fee to the attorney. Lawyers do not charge the same amount for the services they offer, so the amount you pay depends on who you hire.

Estate taxes

It is also worth noting that while you don't incur inheritance or estate tax in South Dakota, you will have to pay estate taxation in certain situations. As of 2022, you will pay federal estate taxes if, individually, your estates are more than $12.6 million, which is the federal estate tax exemption. If you are married, the exemption only applies if your assets do not exceed $24.12 million. If your living trust is smaller than the above amount, you are exempted from paying anything to the federal government.

The trustee you choose

The full cost of creating a living trust in South Dakota is also determined by the trustee you hire. A trustee is responsible for overseeing your assets in the trust and helps in distributing them to your beneficiaries after your demise or if you get incapacitated. There is an amount that you must pay to the trustee for the services rendered. And just like lawyers, trustees don't charge the same amount, so the total cost will be determined by what your trustee charges you for their services.

Become A Resident In SD And Form A Living Trust

If you want to settle in South Dakota and establish a living trust, you need to work with experts, including mail forwarders (if you are out of state), lawyers, and trustees. These experts can assist you in getting all the benefits of residing in the state, including establishing a living trust.

They will also guide you through all the processes to ensure you get all the necessary documents hassle-free. Ensure to look for fully licensed experts with a good reputation for offering high-quality services. You should also compare their prices and work with the one charging an affordable fee yet yields results.

Sign up for Residency in South Dakota