Mary Akkerman, Ballard Spahr

Ballard Spahr

Mary Akkerman

Mary Akkerman guides clients through all aspects of fiduciary representation and estate planning, including dynasty trusts, domestic asset protection trusts, estate and trust administration, guardianships and conservatorships, business and tax planning, estate and gift tax planning, tax appeals, and related litigation. Mary is skilled at establishing public and private trust companies in South Dakota and regularly works with U.S. and international families and advisors on cross-border planning, non-resident alien trust formation, and international tax issues.

She was elected to the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), a national organization of approximately 2,600 lawyers elected to membership by demonstrating the highest level of integrity, commitment to the profession, competence, and experience as trust and estate counselors. Her experience includes

  • Obtaining state charters for private family trust companies for ultra-high net worth families and assisted in formation of trust company entities, policies and procedures, and trust administration matters
  • Regularly representing trustees in defense of high-stakes cases involving fiduciary claims
  • Regularly representing interested parties in contested trust, estate, guardianship and conservatorship matters

Mary is also a member of the firm’s Diversity Council.

Professional Activities

State Bar of South Dakota, Member

Minnesota State Bar Association, Probate and Trust Section, Member

Iowa State Bar Association, Member

American Bar Association, Section of Taxation; Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section, Member

Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, TEP Member

Sioux Falls Estate Planning Council, Member

Prairie Family Business Association, Member

University of South Dakota School of Law Advisory Council, Member

Sioux Falls Estate Planning Council, Board of Directors

Florida Bar, Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section

South Dakota Trust Association, Member, Board of Directors

Recognitions and Accomplishments

The Best Lawyers in America, trusts and estates, 2018-2020

American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), Fellow

ACTEC Asset Protection Committee, Member

ACTEC Fiduciary Litigation Committee, Member

Chambers High Net Worth, Private Wealth Law, South Dakota

Great Plains Super Lawyers, 2014-2018

Martindale-Hubbell AV® Rated

Thomas Sterling Honor Society


Author, “Decanting: A Practical Roadmap for Modernizing Trusts in South Dakota,” South Dakota Law Review, Volume 61, Issue 3, Fall, 2016

Author, “Handling Disputes in Estate Litigation,” Chapter 1, Managing Disputes Over Wills and Inheritance, January 1, 2014

Co-author, “Why an Irrevocable Trust is Not Always Irrevocable,” The Trust Advisor, April 1, 2012

Community Activities


South Dakota State University (M.A. 1998)

South Dakota State University (B.A. 1994)

University of South Dakota School of Law (J.D., 2001, with Sterling Honors)

South Dakota




U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota

U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

U.S. Tax Court