A South Dakota Last Will and Testament is a legal document that a person, referred to as a Testator, would create to declare how they wish to disperse and distribute the assets of their estate after their death. These documents are governed by Chapter 29A-1 of the South Dakota Probate Code, which requires a Testator to be at least 18 years of age or older and of sound mind. These statues also regulate the type of Wills used within the state. For example, Nuncupative Wills, commonly known as Oral Wills, are not recognized in the state, even if they are created in an emergency situation. Although Oral Wills are not recognized, South Dakota will recognize and enforce Holographic Wills, commonly known as Handwritten Wills if they are entirely written in the Testator's signature. Holographic Wills require no witness.
To create a last will in South Dakota, the first piece of information that the Testator will need to provide is their full name and address. Next, they will need to appoint someone they trust to execute their will. If a Testator fails to appoint an Executor, the courts will appoint one. Once the Executor has been appointed, a Testator will then explain how they want their assets distributed. Assets can be divided among children, a spouse, loved ones, charity, or a combination of things. Once all of the Testator's wishes have been documented, he or she will sign, followed by two witnesses. Upon completion of all witness signatures, the will may take effect.