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Your South Dakota last will and testament, created with confidence

Create your last will and testament forms easily from home and in under an hour with FindLaw’s guided process.

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South Dakota will options to suit your needs

Last Will and Testament

For One Person

A do-it-yourself last will that’s easy to personalize.

$99
What’s included:
What’s included
Step-by-step guided process
Attorney-approved document compliant with your state’s laws
A last will and testament that’s customized to your wishes
Free changes and revisions to your will for up to one full year after purchase

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Estate Planning Package

For One person

All the forms you need to create a personal estate plan

$189
What’s included:
What’s included
Last will and testament
Health care directive
Power of attorney
Free HIPAA release form
A comprehensive plan — for less
Free changes and revisions for up to one year after purchase

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Create your South Dakota will from home

In South Dakota, if you die without a will, your property will be distributed according to the state laws of intestate succession. That means South Dakota, and not you, will have control over how your property is split up. Creating a South Dakota will ensures that you determine how your property is distributed to your loved ones after your death.

With a last will, you can control what happens to your property, decide what age beneficiaries can access their inheritance, and safeguard your estate by explicitly disinheriting individuals you do not wish to inherit. Ease a challenging period for your family by clearly communicating your desires.

Written by:

Richard Weiner, Esq.

Contributing Author

JP_Finet_image

Reviewed by:

J.P. Finet, J.D.

Contributing Author

How It Works

It only takes minutes to control your future. Need help? Contact one of our directory attorneys.

Create an account

Create a secure account which is accessible through an easy dashboard you can access any time.

Gather information

You will need a list of your assets, contact information for important people, and any wishes you want to be honored when you’re gone.

Complete your documents

Answer all questions, then we’ll generate your digital documents for downloading, printing, and signing.

Make it legal

Carefully follow the instructions provided in the form, which may include signing your documents in front of witnesses or a notary.

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Plan for your future with confidence

This free guide will help you:

  • Learn the most common estate planning terms

  • Understand the essential estate planning tools

  • Gather critical information with an estate planning checklist

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How to write a valid South Dakota will using FindLaw’s do-it-yourself service

If you want a will, you can hire a lawyer or use a will form from a reliable source. If you use a form, follow these steps:

Understand South Dakota’s laws for creating a valid will

A valid will in South Dakota has to follow state law or it will have no effect when the testator (the person writing the will) dies. A legally insufficient will throws the estate into probate court under the laws of intestate succession, where the court and the law—not you— decide who takes what parts of your estate. A legally valid will is administered the way the testator would have wanted.

Requirements for a legally valid South Dakota will:

  • The testator must be 18 years of age or older, of “sound mind,” and have “testamentary intent,” which means the testator must know that they are writing a will.
  • The will must be in writing. Most wills are printed, but handwritten wills, called “holographic wills,” are legal if they are in the testator’s handwriting.
  • The testator must be free to write the will, both physically and mentally. The testator cannot be “under restraint.” The testator also cannot be under the “undue influence” of another. Undue influence means that a person who will benefit under the will is directing the writing of that will, rather than the testator writing it freely.

List your property

To use FindLaw’s self-service will form, make a complete list of everything that you own, including all personal property, cash and investment accounts, real estate, and anything else.

Decide who gets what

Once you have listed your assets, decide who gets what. Those who receive your assets are the will’s beneficiaries and can be any person or organization. Write the beneficiary down next to each piece of property. Note: South Dakota allows homestead and family allowances, which can be worked into the will.

Decide who will take care of your dependent children

If you have minor children, decide who will be the children’s guardians if both you and the other parent are deceased. Ask that person first.

Choose your executor

Choose an executor. This is your personal representative who will ensure your property goes to the right people and places after your death, among other things. Your personal representative can hire attorneys, accountants, and other professionals to help them manage your estate. Consider also choosing an alternate executor.

Get started and answer some questions

Using the information that you have compiled, click “Get Started” above and answer some questions. It’s OK if you don’t have all the answers. You can always come back later and pick up where you left off.

Pay for the forms

You won’t need to pay until you’ve seen your form from FindLaw. Then, you can pay, print the forms out and follow South Dakota’s legal processes to make the will valid. This is called “executing” the will. It will not be a valid will in South Dakota if it remains on FindLaw’s website without validation.

Print and execute your will

The will is not valid until it is executed, which means that it is signed properly according to the law. The will must be signed by the testator in the presence of at least two witnesses, or by the testator’s designated agent in the presence of the testator. The witnesses must be at least 18 years old and be “disinterested witnesses,” which means that they are not beneficiaries in the will. It is a good idea to have more than two witnesses.

Self-proving notarized will

The will does not have to be notarized to be valid. However, if the will is notarized, it then becomes “self-proving.” The notarization should be attached to the will and signed by both the witnesses and the testator. A self-proving will goes through probate through a simplified process.

Store your will in a safe place

You should store your original, executed will in a home safe, at a lawyer’s office, in a bank safe deposit box, or in some other equally secure storage space. Some probate courts have will storage space. You should also have several copies of the will with the executor and other trustworthy people, along with a note saying where the original is stored.

You may want to speak with a lawyer if you:

  • Have a past divorce, blended family, or other complex family situation
  • Have a high-value estate
  • Own a business
  • Want to create a special needs trust
  • Want legal review of your completed will
Find a local estate planning lawyer

Ready to begin your South Dakota will?

Create my will

South Dakota last will and testament common questions

Yes, you do, and for several reasons. Among those reasons are:

  • If you die without a will in South Dakota, you are deemed to have died intestate. If you die intestate, then the laws of the state of South Dakota will decide how your estate is distributed. The South Dakota laws of intestate succession (South Dakota Codified Laws 29A-2-101-114) are complicated. You would probably rather control the distribution of your estate yourself.
  • If you have minor children, you can use the will to appoint a guardian for the children. You can appoint the same person to take care of the children’s welfare and of their estate, or different people to do each task. This will often be written in conjunction with a trust for the minor children, although the trust itself will be a separate document.
  • You can name your executor in a will. This should be someone you trust to make sure your wishes are carried out by the probate court. If you do not name an executor, the court will appoint one. That can be anybody.
There is no legal requirement to engage a lawyer to write a will under South Dakota law. You can write a will using FindLaw’s DIY will forms.

FindLaw is not a law firm, and the forms are not a substitute for the advice or services of an attorney. If you have a complex case, or would like a lawyer’s review of your estate planning documents, please visit our directory to find a lawyer near you.

Some websites may have forms to fill out for free wills. However, these are usually very simple wills that may not be valid for your state. FindLaw has worked with experienced attorneys to put together state-specific forms so that you will have a South Dakota will. In addition, our step-by-step instructions make sure that you are always taking the right next step to make your will valid.

A decedent’s estate is the sum total of everything that the decedent owned at the time of death, including all real and personal property, before any debts, taxes, or any other adjustments. The gross estate is the financial equivalent of the decedent’s estate if it were to be sold at market price. The gross estate is the amount that will be subject to estate tax.

The will directs the executor or administrator to distribute the decedent’s estate if the estate has assets to distribute, and to pay all bills of the estate.

You can change your will at any time after you write it and even after it is validated. You can either completely revoke it and rewrite it from the ground up or change it by adding a clause called a codicil. The codicil is used to add something to a will. If you want to make wholesale changes (like getting a divorce, winning the lottery, having a child, etc.), you should revoke and rewrite your will.

You can revoke the will just by tearing it into pieces. Writing a new will also automatically revokes the old will. The newest will always supersede the previous wills.

A codicil requires exactly the same elements as writing the initial will, including being of sound mind, having testamentary intent, and the witness requirement.

Your will is going to be administered in the state in which you die. If you die in Florida, as mentioned above, it will be administered there, even if you are a South Dakota resident. If you have property in both states, you will also need a representative in both.

The will is administered in probate court. A probate court will usually let the executor handle most of the estate settlement activities unless there is some problem.

Probating a will, especially for a complex estate, can take some time. There will be court fees, and there is usually a clause in the will directing those fees to be paid out of the estate. If there is a will contest, the proceedings can get lengthy, messy, and expensive.

The probate of the estate is completed when there are no further questions or transactions possible under the will, and the executor files a final accounting.

Anybody with a legal interest in the estate who does not receive their rightful share under the will can contest the will in probate court. Rightful share in South Dakota means the amount that person would have had under South Dakota’s rules of intestate succession. A lawyer can guide you through this very complex area of law.

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  • Shane

    “I valued the easy-to-navigate layouts and the clean design of the forms. The price was the lowest I could find.”

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    “FindLaw helps you fill in the blanks and produce a written doc per your state laws. All you need to do is sign and have it notarized. How easy!”

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    “FindLaw’s website was extremely easy to navigate! It walks you through all the questions you need to answer – very simply. And the price point was excellent. Highly recommend!”

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