Tom Simmons

Tom Simmons

Assistant Professor


UL RM 212

Phone: (605) 677-3960



Curriculum Vitae


An an associate professor at the School of Law, Tom concentrates on trusts, estate administration, and federal estate and gift tax. Prior to joining the legal academy, he was a partner with the law firm of Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson & Ashmore, LLP and clerked for the Honorable Andrew W. Bogue, senior federal district court judge. He has taught at every educational level, from pre-K (as a volunteer at a Head Start program), elementary (fourth grade), secondary (junior high school in Miki-shi, Japan), and undergraduate (in a paralegal program) to graduate (i.e., law school). Tom is an active member of trust and elder law reform. He serves on the South Dakota State Bar's Ethics Committee, Elder Law Committee (founder/chair), Lawyer's Committee on Diversity of Inclusion (ad hoc), and Section of Real Property Probate and Trust (twice past chair) as well as that section's Digital Assets, Trust (chair), and Guardianship Training Materials Committees. He is a longtime member of the American Bar Association's Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law. Tom created and managed the first qualifying "(d)(4)(C)" pooled trust for individuals with disabilities in South Dakota (the "PATI Trust"). He regularly serves as a consultant and expert in litigation involving federal estate and gift tax matters, guardianship issues, Medicaid eligibility, testamentary capacity, and fiduciary administration. He is a lifelong South Dakotan.

Teaching Interests:

Past courses taught: Business Organizations I-II, Comparative Estates Law, Constitutional History (non-USD undergraduate course), Elder Law, and Holocaust Law (seminar). Current courses taught: Comparative [In]tangible Property, Estate Planning, Professional Responsibility, Property, and Trusts & Wills.

Research Interests:

Agency, Asset Protection, Comparative Law, Diminished Capacity, Elder Law, Ethics, Estate and Gift Tax, Fiduciaries, Future Interests, Guardianships, Legal History, Medicaid, Popular Culture, Probate, Property, the Rights of Individuals with Disabilities, and Trusts. Tom's scholarship has explicated robot law, space law, and even zombie law, but his research focuses on trusts, tax, elder law, and estate administration. His work has been published in leading scholarly journals including the Elder Law Journal, Mercer Law Review, John Marshall Law Review, and Gonzaga Law Review. He regularly publishes scholarship on South Dakota legal issues in the South Dakota Law Review.


  • JD, University of South Dakota School of Law, 1998
  • BS, Education and English, University of South Dakota, 1991

Licensures and Certifications:

  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit
  • United States District Court, District of South Dakota
  • Licensed Attorney, State of South Dakota


Citations listed below are presented in a standardized, modified format for display purposes only. They do not necessarily reflect the preferred style and conventions of the faculty member or discipline.

  • Simmons, Tom E.. "Granny Goes to Jail" Redux, 27. Vol. 28, Iss. April-June 2016. NAELA News, 2016.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. The Wrongheadedness of the POMS Pooled Trust Rules and an Unfortunate but Recently Noted Chinese Parallel, 117. Vol. 43. Rutgers Law Record, 2016.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Sexbots; an Obloquy, 45. Vol. 2016. Madison, Wisconsin: Wisconsin Law Review Forward, 2016.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Killer Robots; an Apologia. Common Law, 2016.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Wills Above Ground, 343. Vol. 24. Elder Law Journal, 2016.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Mapping Chinese Trusts with a Patrimony Compass. JOTWELL, 2016.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Deploying the Common Law to Quasi-Marxist Property on Mars, 101. Vol. 51. Gonzaga Law Review, 2015.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Disability Discrimination in the Form of Ad Hoc Examinations, 2. Vol. 6. Nebraska Law Review Bulletin, 2015.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. The Law in Nazi Germany, 145. Vol. 34. West Lafayette, Indiana: Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, 2015.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Testamentary Incapacity, Undue Influence and Insane Delusions, 101. Vol. 60. South Dakota Law Review, 2015.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Medicaid as Coverture, 275. Vol. 26. Hastings Women's Law Journal, 2015.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. What Zombies Can Teach Law Students: Popular Text Inclusion in Law and Literature, 729. Vol. 66. Mercer Law Review, 2015.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. The 'Evil Child' in Literature, Film and Popular Culture, 899. Vol. 47. Journal of Popular Culture, 2014.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Understanding the Challenges and Limitations of Guardianship Proceedings. In Establishing a Guardianship for Elder Law Clients (Inside the Minds series), 105-124. Thompson Reuters/Aspatore, 2013.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Judicial Memoirs. Vol. 16, Iss. 1. The Nebraska Lawyer, 2013.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Pooled Trusts. Vol. 27, Iss. 3. South Dakota Report, 2012.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. "Court Columns" (a monthly newspaper column). Rapid City Journal and Yankton Press and Dakotan, 2012.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Integrating SNTs with IRAs. Vol. 8. NAELA Special Needs Law Section Newsletter, 2010.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Decanting and its Alternatives: Remodeling and Revamping Irrevocable Trusts, 253. Vol. 55, Iss. 2. South Dakota Law Review, 2010.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Using Trusts to Settle Lawsuits, 6. Vol. 19. Probate and Property, 2005.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. When Gift Planning Goes Awry, 23. Vol. 27. National Law Journal, 2005.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. A Guide to South Dakota's Disability Discrimination Laws: Limits and Vantages, 389. Vol. 47. South Dakota Law Review, 2002.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Territorial Justice Under Fire: The Trials of Peter Wintermute, 1873-1875, 91. Vol. 31. South Dakota History, 2001.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. 'Working' with the ADA's 'Regarded As' Definition of a Disability, 27. Vol. 5. Texas Forum on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights, 2000.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. How Medication Affects the Existence of an ADA Disability, 6. Vol. 16. South Dakota Report, 2000.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. State Immunity from Federal Disability Discrimination Laws: Provisions of the ADA and Rehabilitation Act Declared Unconstitutional, 8. Vol. 15. South Dakota Report, 1999.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. The ADA Prima Facie Plaintiff: A Critical Overview of Eighth Circuit Case Law, 761. Vol. 47. Drake Law Review, 1999.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Comment, Highways, Hunters and Section Lines: Tension Between Public Access and Private Rights, 240. Vol. 2. Great Plains Natural Resources Journal, 1997.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Note, Twisted Interests: People in Interest of S.A.H. and the State of Open Adoptions in South Dakota, 537. Vol. 47. South Dakota Law Review, 1997.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. The Intersection of Agency Doctrine and Elder Law: Attorney-in-Fact Authority to Arbitrate Nursing Home Claims. Iss. 49. John Marshall Law Review.

Awards and Honors:

  • Cutler Award for Excellence in Legal Education, 2016
  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation, 2016
  • Inclusion in Best Lawyers in U.S. in area of Trusts and Estates, Best Lawyers (22nd ed. 2016), 2015
  • Fellow, American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), 2013
  • AV Rating, Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register Peer Review Rating, 2013


  • Simmons, Tom E.. Topographical Emphases in Hugh Glass Narratives, 1825-2015. Presented at the 47th Annual Dakota Conference: Where the West Begins?, Augustana College, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (April 24, 2015)
  • Simmons, Tom E.. In Defense of South Dakota Asset Protection Trusts. Presented at the Siouxland Estate Planning Council, Sioux City, Nebraska. (January 15, 2014)
  • Simmons, Tom E.. How the Crummey Crumbles: Present Interest Gift Planning with Trusts. Presented at the Tax Update XXXV CLE, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (December 13, 2013)
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Grantor Trusts. Presented at the Tax Update XXXIV CLE, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (December 13, 2012)
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Estate Planning for Individuals with Disabilities. Presented at the Trusts 101, Rapid City, South Dakota. (July 15, 2012)
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Closing the Estate. Presented at the The Probate Process Start to Finish, Rapid City, South Dakota. (February 15, 2012)
  • Simmons, Tom E.. (Program Chair). Presented at the Elder Law: Representing the Aging Client CLE, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (September 15, 2011)
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Pooled Trusts: An Introduction and Personal History. Presented at the NAELA Special Needs Summit, New Orleans, Louisiana. (May 15, 2010)
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Decanting a Vintage Trust: Prepare the Funnel and Cheesecloth. Presented at the Seventh Annual Estate Planning for Professionals Seminar, South Sioux City, Nebraska. (June 15, 2009)
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Domestic Asset Protection Trusts and South Dakota Trust Updates. Presented at the West River Estate Planning Council, Rapid City, South Dakota. (September 15, 2006)
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Developing Communication Skills and Relationships with Diverse Clients. Presented at the NAELA Annual Symposium, San Francisco, California. (May 15, 2005)
  • Simmons, Tom E.. (Program Chair). Presented at the Tax Update XXVI CLE, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (December 15, 2004)