Sarasota, Bradenton & Lakewood Ranch

Elder Law
Trust & Estate Planning
Probate & Trust Administration
Family Law

Attorneys at law

About Stephen F. Ellis, P.A

Planning and Advocacy in Estate, Trust and Family Law

Serving Sarasota County, Manatee County, Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota, Longboat Key, Venice, Bradenton, and North Port.
(Note: any contact email should be forwarded to:


Law Office of Stephen F. Ellis, P.A.

As a successful and results oriented legal counselor, Steve Ellis employs a combination of over three decades of experience in the practice of law, critical analysis, skillful preparation, and principled advocacy. He assists clients who need a trusted legal advisor. Clients appreciate the value of having a lawyer who will carefully listen to their story and assist them in taking action to obtain identifiable results.

“My practice emphasizes strategic planning, collaboration, litigation, and dispute resolution involving personal, business, estate, trust, probate, guardianship, and family law clients.” – Steve Ellis


Experienced Attorney in Sarasota, Bradenton, and Lakewood Ranch, Florida

Steve Ellis is a persuasive trial and transactional attorney with experience in a broad spectrum of disciplines. He is a strong communicator experienced in strategic analysis, creative consensus building, and effective risk management.

  • A legal counsel supporting proficiency and increased profitability, and a determined advocate of litigation management and collaborative resolution.
  • An experienced author, educator, and public speaker.


“I see the practice of law as an opportunity to help others, through the course of legal affairs, to fully express themselves in life, business, and recreation.” – Steve Ellis



“Steve Ellis is a Sarasota lawyer…lauded as a strong team leader, creative problem solver and a good communicator” – Sarasota Herald Tribune, August 15, 2004.


Testimonials upon request.


Practice areas (Read what Steve Ellis has to say about his areas of law practice – Click Here)


  • Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning
  • Real Property, Probate and Trust Law
  • Family Law
  • Guardianship
  • Elder Practice
  • Business Planning and Litigation


Trial Advocacy and Dispute Resolution

  • Probate and Trust Litigation
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Guardianship/Incapacity
  • Family Law
  • Financial Fraud
  • Criminal Allegations


More about Steve Ellis

Stephen F. Ellis was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in the suburbs of Maryland. He attended Wake Forest University in North Carolina and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1975. He graduated from Stetson University College of Law in St. Petersburg, Florida, and received his Juris Doctor degree in 1978.

He was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1978 and has practiced continuously since that time. He is admitted to and in good standing with the Bar of the State of Florida, the Supreme Court of Florida and all Florida State Courts, the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, and the United States Supreme Court.

Steve is a published author on legal matters, a Bar approved instructor in Continuing Legal Education, a former Adjunct Professor at the State College of Florida, and an active public speaker on issues concerning the law and the judiciary.

He is active in the Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch community and has a record of service with organizations including Rotary, The Child Protection Center, Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, The Glasser-Schoenbaum Human Services Center, Gulfcoast Legal Services, Suncoast Mental Health Center, and the Humane Society of Sarasota County.


Read what Steve Ellis has to say about his areas of law practice

Estate Planning

Estate planning is the art of marshalling facts and planning for both the foreseeable and the unforeseen in a client’s future. Benjamin Franklin famously said: “‘In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”.

The practice of estate planning involves the drafting of documents such as a last will and testament, living or testamentary trusts, powers of attorney, medical surrogate designations, living wills, and designations of preneed guardians.

Strategic estate planning strives to remove the uncertainties from life, while providing a cushion for those times in life which by their nature require spontaneity. We each have so many possessions of value to us, and we want to pass these things on to people who will appreciate the gift. And it is well known that if you don’t make a testamentary plan, the State of Florida will make those decisions for you.

The details of each document must be tailored to the needs and circumstances of each client, their family members, their dependents, and their intended beneficiaries. Often, proper planning may be counter intuitive to what a client initially considers. A clear understanding of the client’s vision for his or her future and family is imperative.


“It wasn’t until I reached an age in my own life, when my own family’s estate planning came into action, that I fully understood the grace which a good plan can have in the true moments of need. I will provide a safe place, a listening environment, and spend the time necessary with you to assure that I understand your concerns, and that the documents we prepare for you will be reflective of your needs and protective of your interests.” – Steve Ellis


Probate and Trust Administration and Trial Advocacy

Upon the death of a loved one, a probate of that person’s estate may be necessary. Alternatively, upon the death or incapacity of a loved one, the task of administering any trust that provides for that loved one or their beneficiaries may be appropriate.

Steve will insure that you are capable of making the most appropriate legal decisions necessary to carry out the wishes of your loved ones through the proceedings of probate, trust, or guardianship administration. He will make sure that you understand the legal benefits and pitfalls of any decision regarding your responsibility as a personal representative, trustee, or other fiduciary, and your entitlements as a beneficiary.

Occasionally, there is the need to make a claim against an estate in probate, or against a trustee regarding the terms and conditions of a trust document. In that event, Steve brings years of experience and practice to bear in analyzing the particular legal dynamics of your situation, in initiating the necessary claims, and in resolving probate and trust disputes in a manner sensitive to your expectations and your best legal interests.

It is said that a young lawyer loses cases he should have won, and that an old lawyer wins cases he might have lost. That is only true because of the years of experience which a lawyer brings to bear in the analysis of potential claims, defenses, and strategies, and their likelihood of success. Steve will spend the time necessary to assess your legal situation, help you understand the procedures and alternatives available to succeed in your efforts, and assist you in making the correct decisions in going forward.

“In the midst of mourning the death of a loved one, I have seen families divisively torn apart; I have also seen powerful, respectful, and admirable family growth. While estate planning can facilitate the better of these options, post mortem strategic legal counseling is often necessary and appropriate.” – Steve Ellis


Issues with regard to our own family members, and the tragedy of loss of memory and other capacities, can involve the most difficult and emotional decisions we can face. The legal remedies, including guardianship and documents conferring powers to act, involve complex decisions and should be entered into with full understanding of the needs of the incapacitated person and the family inextricably affected by this decision.

Often family members have disagreements regarding the best method of assisting their elder loved one, so the guardianship arena can become one requiring advocacy and resolution of differing opinions. In worst case scenarios, the practice of elder law requires knowledge of the potential of undue influence, fraud, interference with beneficiary expectations, and elder abuse.

Steve will spend the time necessary to appreciate the particular concerns and results which your story demands, and will be able to assist you in understanding both the legal benefits and pitfalls of any decision regarding guardianship or other legal remedies in support of your elder loved one.


“The dynamics of the family members surrounding elder clients is an issue which should always be considered in any estate planning or elder care practice. The practice of elder law is more of a perspective, and an attitude of respect, than simply a document mill.” – Steve Ellis


Business Planning and Advocacy

Business planning is an area of law which can often best be understood from the viewpoint of someone who has practiced business litigation. Steve has been active for many years in the practice of strategic business planning, contracts, and litigation.

The steps one takes in a business venture have consequences which are often unforeseen. Steve will take the time necessary for you to understand the benefits, consequences, and hazards which may be attendant to your business decisions.

In the event claims are made against your business, or if your business has cause for bringing claims against others who have done harm to your business, Steve brings years of experience in taking action necessary to redress harm and defending persons and businesses against unfair or baseless claims.


“Litigation is not always the answer to business disputes, and you should always caution against what was once coined as ‘running forty feet up a twenty foot tree.’ Business planning is always wise, however, whether prior to embarking upon a venture or having realized that a venture already begun may have unanticipated perils. It is always sensible to ask what the next best step is.” – Steve Ellis



Family Law

The dynamics of a family are inextricably intertwined with the decisions surrounding the family members. When legal decisions and actions are taken involving a marriage or family, the utmost consideration for the personalities within that family must be considered.

Steve has practiced in the area of family law for over three decades, and holds strong principals on the manner in which family law matters should be undertaken. He is always in favor of collaborative efforts in resolving family disputes, and will strive in all cases to obtain results that best serve not only his client, but the children, and the ongoing relationship of the family members.

You can expect Steve to spend a significant amount of time with you in helping you determine the best outcome for your family, and your needs in transitioning to your new life. Steve’s representation will be a blueprint for analyzing, educating, strategizing, and resolving your family law issues, always with the vision of your new life in mind.


“In the movie, ‘The Natural’ the character of Roy Hobbs said he believed we lead two lives: The life we learn with and the life we live with after that. I believe this is a good standard by which to abide in family law disputes. Whether we decide to or not, we are always transitioning. We must decide that to which we aspire, not just what we don’t want, or we partake in a fool’s errand.” –Steve Ellis


Criminal Allegations and Investigations

As a former Assistant State Attorney with years of experience in the criminal courts, Steve accepts criminal case referrals involving allegations or charges uniquely related to the areas of his practice. He is available to speak with clients regarding any concerns they may have in the nature of criminal law proceedings and determine for the client whether their case falls within his field of criminal representation. As in all matters, if the case is not one which can be handled by Steve’s office, he is capable of referring you to other excellent attorneys.



Contact Information

1800 Second Street, Suite 735
Sarasota, Florida 34236
Telephone 941-366-7200
Facsimile: 941-955-4985

Email address to be linked to


Telephonic Conferences

Steve is available for telephone consultations regarding Florida Law and his areas of practice. Brief introductory conversations are typically without charge and are considered extremely valuable to the determination of choosing an attorney. Please feel free to contact us with your interests and subject matter in order that appropriate financial arrangements may be made if extended telephonic or internet communications are your preference.



We handle all services relating to:

  • Last Will and Testament
  • Living Trusts
  • Power of Attorney
  • Designation of Medical Surrogate and Living Will
  • Declaration Naming Pre-Need Guardian
  • Guardianships
  • Incapacity Determinations
  • Power of Attorney
  • Pre-Nuptial Agreements
  • Marital Settlement Agreement
  • Alimony – spousal support
  • Parental Time Sharing Arrangement
  • Power of Attorney for Child Care
Trial Advocacy and Dispute Resolution
  • Will Contests
  • Trust Construction/Modification
  • Guardianship and Incapacity Determinations
  • Elder Abuse/Financial Fraud
  • Undue Influence
  • Interference with Expectations
  • Guardianship and Incapacity Determinations
  • Actions against Trustees or Fiduciaries
  • Dissolution of Marriage
  • Alimony – spousal support
  • Paternity
  • Child Support
  • Custody disputes
  • And more…