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FAQs

ELDER JUSTICE CENTER FAQs

What is the Elder Justice Center mission?

To remove barriers and enhance the linkages between seniors and the court system, as well as social and legal services.

What are the goals of the Elder Justice Center?

  • Providing a designated elder-friendly facility for seniors over the age of 60.
  • Coordinating access to existing agencies.
  • Providing assistance to senior victims of abuse and/or exploitation.
  • Providing education to the public.
  • Providing short term case management services.

How do I get prepared to assume guardianship duties for a family member or a minor who is in need of care?

 The Elder Justice Center offers a class that teaches persons how to:

  • Complete your annual reports to the Court.
  • Protect the rights of the incapacitated.
  • Marshal and manage finances.

Call The Elder Justice Center for more information at (813) 276-2726.

What background investigation is required of guardians?

Florida law states that all professional guardians must submit, at his or her own expense, to a credit history investigation and criminal background check. Electronic fingerprinting is available for a one-time fee.  A list of approved vendors can be found on the Office of Public & Professional Guardians website.  We have been advised by FDLE that effective April 15, 2012, the FBI no longer accepts or processes hard copy applicant fingerprint cards.  In consideration of that mandate, and due to mailing time-frames, FDLE  ceased processing these cards on April 1, 2012.

The statute also allows the court system to require a non-professional guardian to submit to a credit and background investigation. If required, the proposed guardian must submit identifying information to the court, so the court can perform the background check.

How can I become a Professional Guardian?

How does one maintain one’s status as a Professional Guardian?

Once established, annually, a professional guardian will need to renew their registration with the Office of Public and Professional Guardians, and update their file in the Clerk's office. 


Every (2) years, Professional Guardians are also required to obtain sixteen (16) continuing education credits. Contact the local guardianship association chapter president, Julie Goddard, at (813) 961-4240, for continuing education opportunities, or check the website of the  Hillsborough County Guardian Association (FSGA). Further information on continuing education opportunities can be found at the Office of Public and Professional Guardians, or at CE BrokerCredit checks and criminal background checks are also required every two years.


I’ve been appointed to be a guardian (nonprofessional guardian) by the court.   What do I do?

Florida Law requires every person appointed by the court as a guardian, to receive a minimum of 8 hours of instruction and training on guardianship-related matters within 4 months of appointment. Family Guardianship classes have been developed by the Elder Justice Center and approved by the court, and are designed to inform those who have been assigned to be a guardian for a child or an incapacitated person. The class provides individuals with information on the responsibilities necessary to perform the duties of a guardian. Classes are held at the Hillsborough County Courthouse in downtown Tampa. Pre-registration is required.   A $75 fee covers the 8-hour course and includes a book.  The 4-hour class for guardians of the property of a minor costs $35.00.  To register, call the Elder Justice Center at (813) 276-2726.


What forms does the Elder Justice Center use?

EJC Guardianship Report Review Forms (Completed by the Court’s Elder Justice Center staff, after review of initial and annual guardianship reports, and then forwarded to the guardianship judge for consideration, along with the Clerk’s Audits and the court files, before the judge enters orders on those reports.

EJC Guardian Fee Petition Checklist (Completed by the Court’s Elder Justice Center staff when reviewing guardian fee petitions for the judge. The form summarizes information contained in the petitions and in the court files. The completed document is forwarded to the judge for consideration, before the judge enters a preliminary fee order. If only a portion of the fees requested can be approved without a hearing, an order is entered authorizing the guardian to immediately make payment of that initially approved amount, and a hearing is scheduled to address the rest of the fees requested.)


Do guardians have to file reports?

Yes. Guardians must file certain reports to let the court know the status of the Ward. Click here for the reporting forms utilized by the 13th Circuit.


When are reports due and what periods do they cover?

Click here to access Guide to Filing Reports.


What forms do I use for my Initial and Annual Reports?

See the Forms Page for links to available forms.


I have been authorized to file a Simplified Plan.  Which form do I use?

If you have received a court order that authorizes you to use a Simplified Plan form, you must use the following, current version of the forms. You may use this form only if the court has authorized you to do so.

  • Click Forms to be directed to the Forms Page, to access the Simplified Annual Plan forms.


What other Guardianship resources are available?

Click here for other Guardianship resources.


What is expected of a guardian upon the death of a ward?

Within 30 days after the death of the ward, the guardian will file a notice of death. A certified copy of the ward’s death certificate must be applied for within 15 days of the ward’s death and filed immediately upon receipt. The guardian of the property must file a final report in compliance with section 744.527, Florida Statutes, and Florida Probate Rule 5.680, unless waived in writing by all necessary interested persons, and petition for discharge, unless extended by court order. Any objections to the final accounting or discharge are required to be filed in accordance with Florida Probate Rule 5.680.


Who reviews the reports filed by the guardian?

The clerk is required by law to audit the reports filed. A fee is charged for this audit. Additionally, the Elder Justice Center reviews the annual plans and accountings filed by the guardian. No fee is charged for this review.


How do guardians access a request form to remove confidential information from information previously filed with the clerk’s office?

Guardians who wish to remove confidential information from information previously filed with the Clerk's Office may do so by using a request form available online, on the Clerk of Court's website.  Go to "Online Forms", then "Probate", then "Removal of Confidential Information" (right underneath Probate). The form may be completed online but not submitted online. A hard copy must be submitted either in person, at the Office of the Clerk of Court's Probate/Guardianship Division, 800 E. Twiggs Street, Tampa, Florida or mailed to Clerk of the Circuit Court, Attn: Probate/Guardianship, P.O. Box 1110, Tampa, FL 33601. If you have questions about the form or need assistance, please contact Gena Friscia, Manager of Probate, at (813)276-8100, ext. 4360.


Where can I find a listing of attorneys for guardianship and guardian advocacy cases?

Click here to view the Attorney Listings for Guardianship/Guardian Advocacy Cases.


How can an attorney be placed on the Attorney Listings for Guardianship/Guardian Advocacy Cases?

Any lawyer, upon request and submission of a completed Elder Justice Center Attorney Listing/Update Form, may be placed on the list.  The Elder Justice Center is not actually recommending the attorneys on the list or vouching for their competency.


Who staffs the Elder Justice Center?

The EJC employs three full-time court counselors who provide case management review in guardianship cases. These court counselors provide support to the court by reviewing all guardianship plans and accountings to ensure that the court is receiving adequate information on the ward. If the court has questions that require further information, these court counselors can be appointed as a court monitor to investigate the court's concerns. Upon completion of the investigation, a report is filed with the court and sent to interested parties. The EJC also employs an assistant who helps elders requiring assistance with legal or social issues. Although this office does NOT provide legal advice, the EJC does provide assistance with the completion of injunctions for domestic and repeat violence. Additionally, referrals to legal and social service agencies can be provided to aid the elder.