Probate Shortcuts in South Dakota

Save time and money when you wrap up an estate in South Dakota.

Updated by , Attorney

South Dakota offers some probate shortcuts for "small estates." These procedures make it easier for survivors to transfer property left by a person who has died. You may be able to transfer a large amount of property using simplified probate procedures or without any probate court proceedings at all -- by using an affidavit. And that saves time, money, and hassle.

Here are the ways you can skip or speed up probate. (If the affidavit procedure is used, there's no need to use the simplified probate procedure.)

Claiming Property With a Simple (Small Estate) Affidavit

South Dakota has a procedure that allows inheritors to skip probate altogether when the value of all the assets left behind is less than a certain amount. All an inheritor has to do is prepare a short document, stating that he or she is entitled to a certain asset. This document, signed under oath, is called an affidavit. When the person or institution holding the property -- for example, a bank where the deceased person had an account -- gets the affidavit and a copy of the death certificate, it releases the asset.

The out-of-court affidavit procedure is available in South Dakota if the value of the entire estate, less liens and encumbrances, is $50,000 or less and the deceased person doesn't owe any debt to the Department of Social Services for medical assistance. There is a 30-day waiting period. S.D. Codified Laws § § 29A-3-1201 and following.

Simplified Probate Procedures

South Dakota has a simplified probate process for small estates. To use it, an executor files a written request with the local probate court asking to use the simplified procedure. The court may authorize the executor to distribute the assets without having to jump through the hoops of regular probate.

You can use the simplified small estate process in South Dakota if the estate is of any size -- "informal probate" is available regardless of the value of the estate. There is a 30-day waiting period.

The executor prepares a written request for informal probate that contains the following information:

  • the reason the executor is requesting informal probate
  • the name, date of birth, address, and date of birth of the deceased person
  • the executor's name and address
  • whether anyone has demanded notice of a probate case
  • three years or less have passed since the deceased person's death or special circumstances exist if it's been more than three years
  • a copy of the will is attached to the request and the executor believes it is valid, and
  • the identity of anybody else who has an equal right to be the executor (as determined by D. Codified Laws § 29A-3-203).

S.D. Codified Laws Ann. § 29A-3-301.

The executor must give notice to people -- but only if they have ask for it. S.D. Codified Laws Ann. § 29A-3-306.

For More Information

For help determining if an estate qualifies for one of these probate shortcuts, or handling an estate in general, see The Executor's Guide, by Mary Randolph (Nolo) or Estate Planning Basics, by Denis Clifford (Nolo).

Talk to a Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
Get Professional Help

Talk to a Probate attorney.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you