Tom Simmons

Tom Simmons

Associate Professor


UL RM 212

Phone: (605) 677-3960



Curriculum Vitae


An associate professor, Tom concentrates on trusts, estate administration, and the estate 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 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), and Lawyer's Committee on Diversity of Inclusion. He is a member of the South Dakota Bar Association's Section of Real Property Probate and Trust (twice past chair) as well as its Trust Committee (chair) and Uniform POA Act Committee (chair). 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 serves regularly as a consultant and expert in litigation involving the federal estate tax, guardianships, Medicaid, legal malpractice, and fiduciary administration. He is a lifelong South Dakotan.

Teaching Interests:

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

Research Interests:

Tom's scholarship has explicated robot law, space law, and even zombie law, but his research focuses on trusts, tax, elder law, and fiduciaries. 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:

  • Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court (Sicangu Oyate Bar Association)
  • United States Tax Court
  • Yankton Sioux Tribal Court
  • Accredited Attorney, United States Department of Veterans Affairs
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit
  • United States District Court, District of South Dakota
  • South Dakota Bar Association


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.. Homestead: A (New) Hope, 63. Vol. 63, Iss. 1. South Dakota Law Review, 2018.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Law and the Holocaust: U.S. Cases and Materials, 236. Vol. 52. The Law Teacher, 2018.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Dispensing (with) Electronic Wills. Miami, Florida: JOTWELL, 2018.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Humans and Paragons: Essays on Super-Hero Justice. Vol. 9, Iss. 3. Gainsville, Florida: ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies, 2018.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Post-obit ADA Claims, 11. Vol. 33, Iss. 1. Pierre, SD: South Dakota Report, 2018.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Leach v. Hyatt: Recasting Indefiniteness, 121. Vol. 43, Iss. 1. ACTEC Law Journal, 2018.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Eminent Domain: A Comparative Perspective, 245. Vol. 5. Korean Journal of International and Comparative Law, 2017.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Prequel to Homestead, 327. Vol. 62, Iss. 2. South Dakota Law Review, 2017.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Westerns: A Women's History, 301. Vol. 40, Iss. 3. The Journal of American Culture, 2017.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Actuarial Soundness, the Meaning of "Commensurate" and a "Sniff Test", 167. Vol. 13, Iss. 2. Washington, D.C.: NAELA Journal, 2017.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. To Authorize Sex with Oneself via Proxy or Advance Directive. Miami, Florida: JOTWELL, 2017.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Of Kings and Queens and Their Wills, 109. Vol. 45, Iss. 5. History: Review of New Books, 2017.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. A Chinese Inheritance, 124. Vol. 30. Quinnipiac Probate Law Journal, 2017.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Future Interests? Meet Chattels. JOTWELL, 2017.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Oklahoma Tax Commission v. United States: Death Taxes on Restricted Indian Personalty, 47. Vol. 42, Iss. 1. ACTEC Law Journal, 2017.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. "Court Columns" (a monthly newspaper column). Rapid City Journal and Yankton Press & Dakotan, 2017.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. When Robots Trespass. The Space Review, 2017.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Hugh Glass: Grizzly Survivor, 364. Vol. 46. Pierre, SD: South Dakota History, 2016.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Pregnancy, 12. Vol. 32, Iss. 1. Pierre, SD: South Dakota Report, 2016.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. International and Comparative Law on the Rights of Older Persons, 159. Vol. 12. NAELA Journal, 2016.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Intersectionality Problems with Gendered Disability Discrimination, 8. Vol. 31, Iss. 3. South Dakota Report, 2016.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. How to Die: Biomarker Adjuncts to Death Accelerants. JOTWELL, 2016.
  • Simmons, Tom E.. The Intersection of Agency Doctrine and Elder Law: Attorney-in-Fact Authority to Arbitrate Nursing Home Claims, 39. Vol. 49, Iss. 1. John Marshall Law Review, 2016.
  • 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.. 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.

Awards and Honors:

  • John Wesley Jackson Memorial Award for Outstanding Professor of Law, USD School of Law, 2018
  • Inclusion in Best Lawyers in U.S. in area of Trusts and Estates, Best Lawyers (24th ed. 2018), 2017
  • Fellow, American College of Tax Counsel (ACTC), 2017
  • Cutler Award for Excellence in Legal Education, 2016
  • Life Fellow, American Bar Foundation, 2016
  • Fellow, American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), 2013
  • AV Rating, Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register Peer Review Rating, 2013


  • Simmons, Tom E.. Legalities with Charitable Gifts. Presented at the Fiesta at the Falls, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (May 8, 2018)
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Income Tax Concerns with Purpose Trusts. Presented at the Tax Update XXXIX, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (December 8, 2017)
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Introducing Virtual Representation. Presented at the 1st Annual Fall Forum, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (October 27, 2017)
  • Simmons, Tom E.. "Granny['s Lawyer] Goes to Jail" Redux. Presented at the NAELA Lunch and Learn, webinar. (January 18, 2017)
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Property Law Works-in-Progress. Presented at the AALS 111th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, California. (January 4, 2017)
  • Simmons, Tom E.. UBIT Me. Presented at the Tax Update XXXVIII, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (December 9, 2016)
  • Simmons, Tom E.. Donative Trusts and Equity at Common Law. Presented at the Southwest University of Political Science and Law, Chongqing, People's Republic of China. (June 24, 2016)
  • 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.. Cutting Edge and Bleeding Edge Medicaid Planning. Presented at the West River Estate and Financial Planning Council, Rapid City, SD. (July 10, 2014)
  • 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.. Business Trusts, S-Corp Trusts, Pre-Mortem Planning and Other Recent Developments in the Law of Trusts. Presented at the Business Law CLE, Rapid City, South Dakota. (October 18, 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.. Substituted Judgment: Powers of Attorney, Guardianships, and Conservator-Created Estate Plans. Presented at the Sioux Falls Estate Planning Council, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (April 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)