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Considering a South Dakota Trust?

Is a South Dakota trust right for you and your family? You may have done research or perhaps were informed by your financial advisor that establishing a South Dakota trust could be greatly beneficial. Well, it’s true.

South Dakota has established itself as a favorable destination for trusts, attributed to its progressive and business-friendly trust laws. Independent Trust Company’s home state offers a unique combination of asset protection, tax benefits, and flexibility in trust administration.

Over twenty years ago, the governor of the state gathered a group of whip smart, collegial professionals – both lawyers and non-lawyers – to consider, debate, draft and propose legislation to the South Dakota Legislature. The governor dubbed this band the ‘Trust Task Force’ and gave them a simple goal – create the best.

Since that time, the state of South Dakota has become known both nationally and internationally as a leading situs to domicile trusts.

This is due in large part to the alignment created between the executive, legislative and judiciary branches working with the trust and financial industry to pursue excellence.

Today, South Dakota’s industry leading, trust and privacy laws combined with no state income tax on the assets held in a trust – set South Dakota apart from other trust domiciles. A trust industry built on this strong foundation nurtures an environment where perpetual trusts, asset protection (or credit shelter) trusts, generation skipping tax trusts, spendthrift trusts and all types of personal trusts can flourish. When all this is considered, it’s easy to see why families throughout the world have come to rely on South Dakota trusts – and Independent Trust Company.

Advantages of a South Dakota Trust

South Dakota has become a popular jurisdiction for establishing trusts due to its favorable trust laws and regulatory environment. The benefits of establishing a trust here have many advantages that beneficiaries, trustees and financial advisors may want to consider.

Some of the advantages of a South Dakota trust include:

Robust Asset Protection Laws:
South Dakota’s asset protection laws are among the most robust in the United States. The state has enacted legislation that provides strong protections for trust assets against creditor claims.

One key aspect is the state’s “self-settled spendthrift trust” statutes, which allow an individual to establish a trust for their own benefit while still shielding the assets from creditors under certain circumstances. Additionally, South Dakota has a favorable statute of limitations for creditor claims against trusts, providing added security for trust assets.

Preserve Wealth through Dynasty Trusts:
South Dakota is one of the few states that allow for perpetual or long-term trusts, commonly referred to as dynasty trusts. These trusts can continue for multiple generations without being subject to the rule against perpetuities, which limits the duration of trusts in many jurisdictions.

By enabling dynasty trusts, South Dakota allows families to preserve wealth and assets for future generations, potentially avoiding estate taxes and providing enduring financial support for descendants.

Privacy is Prioritized:
South Dakota’s trust laws prioritize privacy protection for trust settlors and beneficiaries.

Unlike some other states, South Dakota does not require the filing of trust documents or the disclosure of trust assets or beneficiaries to the public. This confidentiality can be particularly beneficial for high-net-worth individuals or families who value privacy in their financial affairs.

There is No State Income Tax:
South Dakota does not impose state income tax on trusts, regardless of where the trust’s income is generated.

This tax-friendly environment makes South Dakota an attractive jurisdiction for individuals seeking to minimize tax liabilities associated with trust income, potentially resulting in significant tax savings over time.

Allows for Directed Trusts:
South Dakota allows for directed trusts, which provide flexibility in trust administration by allowing the trustee to delegate certain duties to third-party advisors or trust protectors.

This arrangement enables settlors to appoint specialized professionals or trusted individuals to oversee specific aspects of trust management, such as investment decisions or distributions, while still benefiting from the trustee’s overall fiduciary oversight.

Flexibility in Trust Setup and Structuring:
South Dakota’s trust laws offer flexibility in trust structuring and administration. You have a wide range of options to customize trusts to meet their unique needs and objectives, including the ability to incorporate specific provisions related to asset management, beneficiary distributions, and succession planning.

This flexibility allows for the creation of tailored trust solutions that align closely with the settlor’s wishes and priorities.

Amenable Court System:
South Dakota boasts a well-respected and efficient court system, which plays a crucial role in trust administration and dispute resolution.

The state’s judiciary has a reputation for competence, integrity, and responsiveness, providing trust beneficiaries and stakeholders with confidence in the legal system’s ability to uphold their rights and enforce trust provisions effectively.

Professional Trust Services: South Dakota is home to a thriving trust industry, including trust companies like Independent Trust Company, advisors, and legal professionals with extensive experience in trust administration and wealth management.

These professionals offer a wide range of services to trust clients, including trustee services, investment management, tax planning, and estate administration. Their expertise and specialized knowledge contribute to the overall attractiveness of South Dakota as a trust jurisdiction.

South Dakota’s trust advantages encompass a combination of robust asset protection, tax benefits, privacy provisions, administrative flexibility, and professional services, making it a highly desirable jurisdiction for individuals and families seeking to establish trusts for wealth preservation, tax planning, and succession purposes.


Is a South Dakota Trust Right for Your and Your Family?

When establishing a trust for your family in South Dakota, there are several key considerations to keep in mind. An experienced attorney or financial advisor would likely emphasize the following three important factors:

  1. Objectives and Goals: Before establishing a trust, it’s crucial to clearly define your objectives and goals. Consider what you hope to achieve with the trust, such as asset protection, wealth preservation, tax minimization, succession planning, or providing for the financial needs of your family members. Understanding your priorities and long-term vision will help shape the trust structure and provisions to align with your specific objectives.

  2. Trust Structure and Provisions: The trust’s structure and provisions play a significant role in achieving your objectives and addressing the needs of your family members. Work closely with your attorney or financial advisor to design a trust that incorporates the appropriate legal mechanisms and features to meet your goals effectively. This may include considerations such as asset distribution strategies, trustee selection, beneficiary provisions, tax planning strategies, and asset protection measures. Tailoring the trust to your family’s unique circumstances and dynamics is essential for ensuring its effectiveness and relevance over time.

  3. Selection of Trustees and Advisors: The selection of trustees and advisors is critical for the successful administration and management of the trust. Choose trustees who possess the necessary expertise, integrity, and discretion to fulfill their fiduciary duties and act in the best interests of the trust beneficiaries. Consider factors such as professional experience, competence, availability, and compatibility with your family’s values and preferences. Additionally, engage qualified financial advisors, tax professionals, and legal counsel who can provide guidance and support in trust administration, investment management, tax planning, and compliance matters. Building a trusted team of professionals ensures that the trust is administered efficiently and in accordance with your wishes, while also providing ongoing support and expertise to navigate complex financial and legal issues.

By carefully considering these key factors and working closely with experienced professionals, you can establish a trust in South Dakota that effectively addresses your family’s needs, goals, and priorities, providing long-term benefits and peace of mind for generations to come.


How Should you Evaluate a south dakota trust?

When considering a South Dakota trust company to manage your trust, become an objective advisor or act as a co-trustee, a trustee like yourself may ask a range of questions to assess the trust company’s suitability and capabilities specific to you and your family’s needs. Here are some common questions a trustee might ask when considering a South Dakota trust:

  1. Do they have Experience and Expertise?

    • How long has the trust company been in business?
    • What is the company’s experience in managing trusts similar to ours?
    • Can you provide references from current or past clients?
    • What credentials and qualifications do your team members possess?
    • Can you explain the benefits and advantages of a South Dakota trust?
  2. What are their Services and Offerings?

    • What specific services does the trust company provide?
    • Can you customize your services to meet our trust’s unique needs and objectives?
    • Do you offer investment management, tax planning, and other financial services?
    • How do you handle trust administration, reporting, and record-keeping?
  3. What are their Fees and Compensation Structure?

    • What are your fee structures for trust management services?
    • Are there any additional costs or charges we should be aware of?
    • How do you calculate fees, and are they transparent and competitive?
    • Can you explain the financial benefits of a South Dakota trust?
  4. What is their Investment Philosophy and Strategy?

    • What is your investment philosophy and approach?
    • How do you select and monitor investments for trusts?
    • Can you accommodate specific investment preferences or restrictions?
    • If your firm does not directly manage the trusts assets, can you explain what ‘conflict free’ trust management is and who should I have manage the investment assets of the trust. *Note: Independent Trust Company does not act as the investment manager over a trust’s assets. We provide conflict free trust management services for our clients.
  5. How do you handle Regulatory Compliance and Oversight?

    • Are you licensed and regulated by relevant authorities?
    • How do you ensure compliance with trust laws and regulations?
    • Do you have internal controls and risk management processes in place?
    • If I don’t live in South Dakota, can you explain the compliance and oversight required of a South Dakota trust?
  6. Communication and Reporting:

    • How frequently will we receive updates and reports on the trust’s performance?
    • What communication channels are available for trustees and beneficiaries?
    • Can you accommodate specific reporting preferences or requirements?
  7. What are Trustee Responsibilities and Support?

    • What role will the trust company play as trustee, and what are its fiduciary duties?
    • How do you collaborate with trustees in decision-making and trust administration?
    • Do you provide ongoing support and guidance to trustees as needed?
  8. Tell me about your approach to Technology and Security:

    • What technology platforms and systems do you use for trust management?
    • How do you ensure the security and confidentiality of trust-related data and information?
    • Are there measures in place to protect against cybersecurity threats and data breaches?
  9. Tell me more about Succession Planning and Continuity:

    • What is your succession plan in case of key personnel changes or transitions?
    • How do you ensure continuity and stability in trust management over the long term?
  10. Client Satisfaction and Feedback:

    • How do you gather feedback from clients, and how do you address any concerns or issues?
    • Can you provide examples of how you have resolved challenges or conflicts in the past?

By asking these questions and engaging in thorough due diligence, trustees can make informed decisions when selecting a South Dakota trust company to manage a trust, ensuring that the chosen provider aligns with their needs, values, and objectives. Your goal is to partner with a South Dakota trust that can provide personalized and proactive trust solutions that will benefit you.

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Connect with our friendly, knowledgeable people to discuss:

  • Understanding the provisions of your trust
  • What the grantor of the trust intended to provide and on what basis
  • Who can hire and fire the trustee of your trust
  • Why distributions may differ between the beneficiaries of the trust
  • Who can serve as trustee of your trust
  • What are the costs typically associated with administration of a trust
  • Types of trusts and the different roles of stakeholders
  • Insights on best practices from a professional trust administrator
  • Additional provisions that you might consider including in a trust.
  • Where to domicile your trust and why it can save you money