A Guide to Understanding the Sarasota County Probate Court Process
Sarasota County Probate Court is a division of the Circuit Court which handles issues related to the settlement of estates as well as wills, guardianship proceedings, and more.
What Is the Sarasota County Probate Court?
Many Florida residents have heard of the Sarasota County Probate Court, but are unsure of what it is.
The process when a court oversees how property is distributed to heirs after a person passes away is called probate. Many states, like Florida, have a special probate court that appoints someone to take control of the assets, distribute remaining property, and ensure all debts are paid upon a person’s demise.
An experienced law office that practices estate law, such as Lehn Law, P.A., can assist the bereaved in this difficult matter.
Sarasota County Probate Court Address
The Sarasota County Probate Court address is 2002 Ringling Boulevard Sarasota, FL 34237. This court is part of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court, which serves a portion of Southwest Florida on the Gulf Coast including DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota Counties.
Understanding Sarasota Probate Court
As a law firm experienced with wills and trusts and all things probate, we understand that the Sarasota Probate Court provides a valuable service. However, we also know that probate can be a complicated process, and many people would rather avoid it. The best way to do so is by preparing early and making sure you have all of your affairs in order, including a solid last will and testament.
When someone passes away, the probate court determines whether the will is valid. If it is, the property is distributed as instructed by the will. If the will is contested, the court determines if it should be probated. During probate, a representative (who may be appointed in the will or via the court) inventories the assets of the estate and then makes a plan to pay debts and distribute the assets with the court’s supervision. Heirs and potential beneficiaries have the chance to object during this process.
According to Florida state probate law, when people die and they do not have a will or trust in place, their property is distributed to the next of kin. This is known as the Law of Intestate Succession and specifies which family members may be entitled to a share.
Probate Court Sarasota FL Costs
The cost of Probate Court in Sarasota, FL can include costs of publishing notices, court filing fees, attorney’s fees, and executor’s fees.
Although not many states do so, Florida law does outline attorney fees for probate, based on the value of the estate. More information can be found here. However, attorneys are not required to follow these rates.
Sarasota County Florida Probate Court
The Sarasota County Florida Probate Court process can take months or years to complete. For a more modest estate, it can take up to two years. If any heirs contest a will, this will make things more expensive and time-consuming. This is why it is vital to handle estate planning ahead of time.
Sarasota County Probate Judge
A Sarasota County Probate Judge will make the ultimate decisions, but the probate process begins when a relative files the petition. After the process, the Sarasota Florida court will appoint either a personal representative or executor for the estate. Most wills designate who will be responsible for:
- Arranging for public notices
- Filing necessary court documents
- Selling assets
- Sending probate notices to beneficiaries
- Settling debts and other expenses
Many people are unaware of the differences between an Executor and a Personal Representative. It is a challenging responsibility, so a lawyer is often hired to help.
Sarasota County Probate Court Records
Sarasota County Probate Court Records make the decedent’s financial situation public record. This includes the extent of assets as well as who gets them and records of the person’s debt.
You can always request to view probate court records by contacting the Circuit Court Clerk. The rules for probate are complex, and many states have a simplified procedures if an estate is under a certain value or if everything is left to a surviving spouse. It’s important to know your rights in these situations.
If you have concerns about a probate dispute or would like to get your own affairs in orders, contact us to schedule a free consultation.