Trusts & Estates

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Lindquist & Vennum represents professionals, corporate executives, business owners, and multigenerational families with inherited wealth. Recognizing the integral relationship of the business, investment, financial and familial objectives of our clients, our trusts and estates attorneys strive to develop and implement an independent, tax-efficient succession plan consistent with each client’s objectives. Dovetailed with this practice is our experience representing trust departments, corporate fiduciaries, banks and wealth planning professionals.

We represent or have represented 14 public trust companies in South Dakota and 23 of the state’s 69 private trust companies chartered there. This work includes obtaining charters for three private trust companies, assuming the general representation of private trust companies chartered by other firms, and very extensive work, both contested and uncontested, relating to the administration of trusts – particularly trusts that have migrated to South Dakota from other jurisdictions.

We are the only law firm with distinguished trust attorneys in Sioux Falls, Minneapolis and Denver. Our team includes ACTEC Fellows and attorneys selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers, Rising Stars, and Best Lawyers in America.


Estate Planning

  • Represented closely-held business owners in the transportation industry and coordinated an advisor team to structure owners’ estate plans to include several irrevocable trusts to own shares of the company so that appreciation of stock occurred outside the taxable estate of the individuals and would transfer free of wealth transfer taxes.
  • Successfully saved multi-millions in estate taxes through long-term lifetime planning involving formation and administration of multi-generational irrevocable trusts, comprehensive gifting plan, multi-level entity formation and proper administration including partnerships and LLCs after death of a client.
  • Developed a comprehensive estate plan for a bank owner to enable use of the $5 million federal estate tax exemption amount in irrevocable grantor trusts so that appreciation in company stock occurs outside of the bank owner’s taxable estate and family benefits from inheritance with creditor protection. The plan will result in more than $2.5 million in estate tax savings to the client’s family all while working with banking law partners to ensure compliance with applicable banking regulations and governance issues.
  • Developed and prepared estate planning documents for local public figures to preserve privacy while addressing their family personal estate planning needs in a tax efficient manner, including preparation of Wills, revocable trusts, powers of attorney, health care directives and beneficiary designations.
  • Developed ongoing relationship with a farming family to refine their goals for transitioning ownership and management of the family farm to the next generation, crafted and implemented a plan to accomplish goals of providing retirement income, continuing operation of the farm, keeping farm land in family ownership, and treating children fairly, all in the most efficient manner possible.

Estate and Trust Administration

  • Represented the trustee of numerous trusts that hold one of the largest concentrations of family wealth in the United States, including several operating companies.
  • Through proper planning and documentation during the lifetime of long-term client, we swiftly and efficiently responded to an IRS gift tax audit after the client’s death, resulting in the receipt of a federal gift tax closing letter accepting our client’s returns as filed and ending the audit.  
  • Represented private family trusts is securing court approval of trustee administration of more than 20 years of annual accounts. The court also approved all attorney fees and trustee fees over this extended period of time. This court action saved the family significant costs that would have otherwise required insurance and eliminated any threat of potential litigation in the future.
  • Worked to charter new South Dakota trust companies, including the preparation of application and coordination with the South Dakota Division of Banking to move the application forward to charter.
  • Guided personal representatives to secure court authority to disclaim assets from an estate resulting in favorable estate tax consequences in excess of $100,000 for family beneficiaries.

Fiduciary Litigation

  • Successfully represented a corporate fiduciary to defend breach of fiduciary duty claims. All claims against the fiduciary were dismissed and all fees incurred by the fiduciary were allowed.
  • Successfully represented individual trustees in a highly contentious case raising breach of fiduciary duty challenging fiduciary accounting after navigating comprehensive discovery process, multiple hearings and resulting in settlement prior to trial.
  • Guided a corporate trustee of a South Dakota dynasty trust through a multi-jurisdictional dispute involving federal courts and state court, securing approval of fiduciary fees, preservation of South Dakota situs and no liability for corporate trustee caught in the middle of a familial dispute.
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