South Dakota End of Life Guide

Advance Directives 

Advance Directives are legal documents that allow you to make known your end-of-life care ahead of time. The state of South Dakota recognizes your right to decide the terms of your own medical treatment and to assign a person to make those decisions when you are not able to do so. 

Here are some important questions to consider before beginning this process:

  • Is this document(s) state specific? No

  • Does this document(s) need to be notarized? No

  • Does this document(s) require witnesses? If so, how many? Yes / 2

  • Can you legally use Aging With Dignity's 5 Wishes DocYes

In the state of South Dakota, there are two separate forms required for a complete Advance Directive - A Living Will and a Health Care Proxy form. Click below to download these forms:



(Source: Rapid City Regional Health)

Death with Dignity

Death with Dignity laws allow the dying more control of their death and end-of-life decisions. These laws allow terminally-ill, able-minded state residents to request and receive prescription medication to hasten their death. 

In South Dakota, Death With Dignity legislation has not been passed nor submitted under a House or Senate Bill. 

Designated Funeral Agent

South Dakota law supports the appointment of a designated funeral agent to follow through on your written personal preferences (see below) or make funeral arrangements on your behalf if no written preferences are indicated.

South Dakota Law 34-26A-2 states that the right to make disposition arrangements is given to the person named as an authorizing agent. 

The appointment of a designated funeral agent will override the next-of-kin's usual authority and let the citizen designate whom he/she wants to control the disposition of his body.


Financial Assistance

South Dakota does not offer assistance, although under South Dakota state law, counties have a legal responsibility to provide assistance to deceased indigent residents.

See our Financial Assistance Chart for more details.

Home Funeral

Home funerals, or family led funerals, are 100% legal in South Dakota. Your family or appointed agent may care for the deceased and handle all your funeral arrangements and necessary paperwork (permits and certificates) without a funeral director.

Check with the National Home Funeral Alliance for up-to-date details on how to navigate home funerals in South Dakota.

Personal Preference Law

Personal preference laws for body disposition obligate your survivors to follow your written [or verbal] personal preferences. This often goes hand-in-hand with designating a funeral agent to follow through with your funeral or body disposition preferences. 

In South Dakota, your personal preferences are protected via Title 34, Chapter 26, Section 1 of the South Dakota statutes. Your written personal preferences should, of course, be shared with your spouse, next-of-kin, or designated funeral agent as well.