A dynasty trust is a powerful estate planning tool that allows families to preserve and transfer wealth across multiple generations while minimizing taxes. South Dakota trust law has become a popular jurisdiction for establishing dynasty trusts due to its favorable trust laws. In this blog post, we will explore the key features and benefits of dynasty trusts under South Dakota trust law for advisors' clients, grantors, and beneficiaries. 

2 Learning Outcomes from this blog post:

  1. Understand the benefits of establishing dynasty trusts under South Dakota trust law, including wealth preservation and creditor protection.

  2. Gain knowledge of the key features of dynasty trusts in South Dakota, such as perpetual duration, no state income tax, and the option for directed trusts.

Let's dive right in.

Benefits of Dynasty Trusts

A dynasty trust is a smart way to pass down wealth through generations while reducing taxes. South Dakota is a popular choice for creating dynasty trusts due to its favorable trust laws. These trusts offer benefits like preserving wealth and protecting assets from creditors. They have key features such as lasting indefinitely, no state income tax, and the ability to appoint trust directors.

Wealth Preservation

Dynasty trusts offer a powerful solution for wealth preservation, enabling families to maintain and grow their assets over generations. By establishing a dynasty trust, individuals can ensure that their hard-earned wealth is protected from excessive taxation and potential financial risks. South Dakota, with its favorable trust laws, provides an ideal environment for implementing such trusts.

One key benefit of dynasty trusts is their perpetual duration. Unlike other types of trusts that have limited lifespans, dynasty trusts can last indefinitely, allowing for the uninterrupted management and transfer of wealth across generations. This perpetual structure helps to preserve the family's financial legacy and ensures that future beneficiaries can benefit from the trust's assets.

Furthermore, dynasty trusts established in South Dakota can minimize tax burdens. The generation-skipping transfer tax (GST) is an important feature of these trusts, as it allows for tax-efficient transfers of assets to beneficiaries who are multiple generations younger. By leveraging this tax advantage, families can significantly reduce their overall tax liability and maximize the wealth passed down to future generations.

In addition to tax benefits, dynasty trusts provide a reliable shield against potential creditors. Assets held within the trust are protected from legal claims or financial risks faced by individual beneficiaries. This ensures that the wealth remains intact and secure, safeguarding the family's financial well-being over time.

Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax (GST)

Generation-skipping transfer tax (GST) is a tax that applies to transfers of wealth from one generation to another, skipping the immediate generation in between. In the context of a dynasty trust, the GST offers advantages and disadvantages.


1) Tax Efficiency: Families can reduce or eliminate the GST by utilizing a dynasty trust. This enables the transfer of wealth to beneficiaries who are multiple generations younger without incurring significant tax burdens. It helps to preserve more wealth for future beneficiaries.

2) Wealth Preservation: The GST ensures that assets held within the dynasty trust remain within the family bloodline. It prevents dilution or dissipation of wealth through transfers to unintended beneficiaries, protecting the financial legacy for future generations.

3) Long-Term Financial Security: Dynasty trusts allow for the ongoing management and growth of assets over an extended period. By bypassing taxation at each generational transfer, the trust can accumulate wealth, providing a lasting source of financial security for beneficiaries.


a) Complex Rules and Regulations: The GST operates under a set of intricate rules and regulations, which can be challenging to navigate. Compliance with tax laws and regulations requires careful planning and expert advice.

b) Administrative Costs: Establishing and maintaining a dynasty trust involves administrative expenses. Professional fees, tax filings, and trust management costs can reduce the overall value of the trust over time.

c) Loss of Control: Once assets are transferred into a dynasty trust, the grantor relinquishes direct control over those assets. Beneficiaries may have different priorities or financial management skills, potentially impacting wealth's long-term preservation and growth.

The GST within a dynasty trust offers tax benefits, wealth preservation, and long-term financial security. However, it comes with complex rules, administrative costs, and potential loss of control. Families considering a dynasty trust should carefully weigh the pros and cons, seeking professional guidance to ensure compliance and make informed decisions.

Creditor Protection

Creditor protection within a dynasty trust is a valuable feature that helps shield the trust's assets from potential creditors. Under South Dakota trust law, dynasty trusts offer robust protection against legal claims and financial risks.

When assets are transferred into a dynasty trust, they are no longer considered the property of individual beneficiaries. Instead, they are held within the trust, safeguarded from potential creditors seeking to make claims against the beneficiaries. This ensures that the wealth remains protected and can be passed down to future generations without the risk of being seized or depleted.

However, it's important to note some limitations to creditor protection in dynasty trusts. While the trust can provide significant asset protection, it is subject to certain exceptions. For example, if the trust was intentionally set up to defraud creditors or if the grantor transfers assets into the trust while facing existing creditor claims, those assets may still be vulnerable to creditor action.

Additionally, it's essential to understand that once assets are placed in the dynasty trust, the grantor loses direct control over them. While this loss of control can be advantageous for creditor protection, it also means that beneficiaries may have different spending habits or financial management skills, potentially impacting the long-term preservation and growth of the assets.

Creditor protection within a dynasty trust under South Dakota trust law shields assets from potential creditors. Although the protection is robust, certain limitations exist, and the loss of direct control over assets should be carefully considered. Seeking professional advice is crucial to ensure proper structuring and management of a dynasty trust for optimal creditor protection.

Key Features of Dynasty Trusts in South Dakota

Not every state offers trusts that last forever. It's important to remember the why behind the South Dakota trust law. - giving grantors and beneficiaries freedoms around their wealth. 

Perpetual Duration (aka forever or infinity)

Once upon a time, in the small town of Willowbrook, the Turner family sought to secure their financial legacy for generations to come. Concerned about the potential loss of wealth due to estate taxes and the ever-changing economic landscape, they turned to the concept of a dynasty trust with perpetual duration.

The Turner family, consisting of grandparents, William and Elizabeth, and their grandchildren, Emily and James, created a trust that would stand the test of time. With the guidance of their attorney, they established an "Infinity Trust," a type of dynasty trust that allowed their assets to be held and managed for an indefinite period. 

Over the years, as the Turner family's wealth grew, so did the benefits of their Infinity Trust. They were able to pass down their financial assets, properties, and business interests to subsequent generations without incurring hefty estate taxes at each transfer. The trust ensured that their hard-earned wealth remained intact and accessible for the benefit of their children, grandchildren, and future descendants. The Turner's used a unique feature only available under South Dakota trust law (as of Janaury 2023), called the silent trust or quiet trust

Through the perpetual duration of the Turner Infinity Trust, the Turner family experienced the true power of generational wealth. Their grandchildren, Emily and James, were able to pursue their dreams without the burden of financial strain. They were afforded opportunities for higher education, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy, all made possible by the lasting legacy of the trust.

The Turner family's Infinity Trust not only provided financial security but also created a sense of unity and responsibility among family members. They understood the importance of preserving the trust for the benefit of future generations, instilling a strong sense of stewardship and values in their descendants.

With the Infinity Trust serving as the bedrock of their financial foundation, the Turner family thrived through the years, lasting impacting their community and the generations to come. Their story stands as a testament to the profound advantages and lasting benefits that perpetual duration within a dynasty trust can provide for a family's wealth and legacy.

Directed trusts

Using directed trust features under South Dakota trust law, the Turner family proved to be an effective tool within their dynasty trust for investment management. The family entrusted their wealth advisor team, Flower Wealth Management, with the responsibility of making investment decisions for the trust.

With Flower Wealth Management serving as the investment advisor, the Turner family gained the expertise and guidance needed to navigate the complexities of investment strategies. Flower Wealth Management worked closely with the family to understand their financial goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon.

The directed trust structure provided several value adds for the Turner family. Firstly, it allowed them to leverage the knowledge and experience of their trusted advisors, ensuring that their investments were handled by professionals with a deep understanding of the financial markets.

Additionally, the Turner family benefited from the ongoing generational planning offered by the team at Flower Wealth Management, monitoring and management of their investments. This included coordinating with the other service providers (CPA, estate attorney, and property and casualty) used by the Turner Infinity Trust family members. 

The corporate trustee offer the discretionary distribution powers on the trust distributions in collaboration with the comprehensive financial planning offered by Flower Wealth Management.

Delegated Trusts

Another option for financial advisors are using delegated trusts within a dynastic trust (comparison of a delegated vs directed trust). Trust companies created for wealth advisors are agnostic on serving as trustee whether the trust falls under the directed or delegated trust model. Advisors need to confirm with their compliance department on whether they can offer investment advice under a directed and/or delegated trust. 

In a delegated trust, the trust company delegates the investment duties (i.e., investment objective, rebalancing, buys/sells, custodian choice) to a third-party wealth management firm, such as the Flower Wealth Management (made-up name) under the Turner family in the descriptions above (also made up). 

Setting Up a Dynasty Trust in South Dakota

When setting up a trust of any type, there are a few best practices families, along with the help of their advisors, should consider: 

  Best Practice What does this mean? Comment
1. Clear Objectives Define the purpose and goals of the trust to ensure it aligns with your intentions. All about merging the philosophy of family & wealth.
2. Trustee Selection

Choose a trustworthy and competent trustee who can fulfill their fiduciary duties.

Ask questions like why they exist; how do they do what they do; it's not the what by the why/how. It's not how big or old the trust company is b/c no administrative trust company custodies or holds assets.


Asset Funding

Properly transfer assets into the trust, making sure legal ownership is done

Boring but critical work.
4.  Beneficiaries Designations Clearly, ID beneficiaries answering the question of why, when, how much, and whom around trust distributions. Think about whether you want trust distributions to be limited to a certain percentage per year; or whether the trustee decides on enabling or supporting distribution's most significant section.
5. Contingency Planning Prepare for potential changes in circumstances by including provisions for successor trustees, beneficiaries, or investment managers. Allow beneficiary(s) to remove and appoint a trust company, typically in a majority method. 

Setting up a dynastic trust in South Dakota requires the following checklist:

a) Choosing a trust company or picking a trust company. When trying to pick the best trust company think about they why versus the what. 

b) Get suggestions and choose a trust and estate attorney which will draft (aka create) the dynastic trust document

c) Ensure the financial advisor communicates and works with the trust and estate attorney so that the philosophy of the family and wealth find a harmony in the trust document. Money should not tear apart a family. 

d) Execute the plan. 

Conclusion to Understanding a Dynastic Trust under South Dakota trust law 

The decision to use a dynastic trust comes into a philosophical realm after considering the estate tax benefits.

In embracing the concept of a dynastic trust under the South Dakota trust law, you or a client will embark on a journey far beyond your lifetimes. It is a testament to your desire to create a lasting legacy, to nurture and protect the wealth you have diligently accumulated.

Through perpetual duration and the advantages allowed under South Dakota's trust laws, it is interesting to note you will transcend the boundaries of time, ensuring the fruits of your labor endure for generations to come. Deciding on the distribution rules, the responsibility to safeguard your financial legacy to provide opportunities and security for your descendants -- the goal should be to avoid being perfectly wrong as the other option will be impossible to reach. 

A dynastic trust is an embodiment of your values, hopes, and dreams. It carries with it the power to shape futures, empower aspirations, and instill the principles that define you as a family.

Focus on the big picture as you navigate the complexities of setting up and managing a dynastic trust. However, focus on the #1 thing defined in the execution of the dynastic trust. 

Family values last longer than family money. While keeping the language simple and flexible, consider that in the rules established within your dynastic trust.