Our Trust and Estate Administration practice group is led by Vance Goldammer, Alexander Ellman, and Jennifer E. Bunkers.

When a person dies, the assets of his or her estate must be collected and managed, the decedent's debts must be paid, and the remaining assets distributed to heirs.  These obligations, which are an essential component of estate administration, can be overwhelming to a family member who has no experience with the process.   Lawyers at Redstone Law Firm have extensive experience representing clients in administering the estates of their loved ones, providing valuable guidance and peace of mind in a difficult time.

Probate – Probate is the legal process that takes place after someone dies.  In South Dakota, probate proceedings can be formal or informal, and the nature of the proceeding will depend upon the circumstances of the particular case.  A personal representative is typically appointed to administer the decedent's estate.  Redstone Law Firm represents personal representatives at every stage of the probate administration process.  The firm also represents fiduciaries and beneficiaries when probate litigation arises, including cases involving challenges to the validity of the will, objections to the appointment of a personal representative or guardian, petitions for the Court to determine the heirs of the estate, and spousal claims to an elective share of the estate. Serving as a personal representative to handle your loved one's estate can be overwhelming.   Lawyers at Redone Law Firm are available to assist with fulfilling the tasks associated with probate, including: 

  • Compiling an inventory of estate assets;
  • Consulting on best practices for administering assets of the estate;
  • Drafting and responding to creditor claims;
  • Handling any necessary court filings in the probate proceeding;
  • Locating potential heirs and determining heirship; and
  • Determining final distributions to heirs and beneficiaries.

Trust Administration – South Dakota's favorable trust, privacy, and asset protection laws have drawn families from across the world to form trusts within the state.  Lawyers at Redstone Law Firm advise corporate trustees and individual trustees regarding their legal obligations so they can perform their duties with confidence.  They have extensive experience advising trustees on an array of administrative duties, including:

  • Interpreting trust provisions;
  • Drafting notices to trust beneficiaries;
  • Drafting accountings of trust assets;
  • Collecting life insurance policy proceeds;
  • Seeking court supervision;
  • Obtaining valuations on property owned by the trust;
  • Determining whether estate tax is due;
  • Satisfying debts and liquidating assets when necessary; and
  • Distributing trust assets to beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust.

Trust Modification and Termination – A trust can be revocable or irrevocable.  While revocable trusts can be amended or terminated by the settlor at any time, irrevocable trusts generally cannot be amended or terminated.  There are certain exceptions to this rule.  Lawyers at Redstone Law Firm are able to review the trust document and provide advice regarding whether modification or termination is feasible, and whether there are other creative solutions available that will streamline administration, avoid conflicts among beneficiaries, and maximize tax benefits.  Our lawyers are available to provide solutions to complex problems and guide trustees and beneficiaries through the necessary legal proceedings.

Removal of Trustees – There are certain actions and circumstances that may create grounds for an interested party to remove a trustee.  For example, a South Dakota court may remove a trustee if there is evidence that the trustee has committed a serious breach of his or her duties, if there is a lack of cooperation among co-trustees that impairs the administration of the trust, or if the trustee is unfit or persistently fails to administer the trust effectively.  There are other circumstances that may also create grounds for removal. 

Appointment of Trustees or Other Fiduciaries – Redstone Law Firm is available to assist with the appointment of a successor trustee, which is the person or entity that takes over management of a trust over the former trustee dies, resigns, becomes incapacitated, or is removed.   Successor trustees are usually designated in the trust document itself.   If no successor trustee is named, or if the designated successor trustee cannot serve, a successor trustee may be appointed by beneficiaries or the court. 

Trustee Liability – Under certain circumstances, a trustee may be personally liable for a breach of his or her fiduciary duties, or for failing to adhere to the terms of the trust.  Lawyers at Redstone Law Firm have extensive experience litigating claims involving trustee liability. 

Trust and Estate Administration Attorneys


Trust and Estate Administration Staff


We invite you to contact our Trust and Estate Administration practice group with questions on your specific situation.

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