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News & Events

Eldercaring Coordination Pilot Project

The 13th Judicial Circuit has joined the Florida Chapter of the Association of Family & Conciliation Courts (FLAFCC) Task Force to begin implementing the Eldercaring Coordination Pilot Program, along with seven other Judicial Circuits in Florida.

Eldercaring Coordination is a dispute resolution option specifically for those high conflict court cases involving issues related to the care and needs of elders. Eldercaring Coordination is to complement, not replace, other services such as provision of legal information or legal representation, individual/family therapy, medical, psychological or psychiatric evaluation or mediation.

Eldercaring Coordination focuses on reducing the level of conflict in families so that the family members are able to focus more productively on the issues at hand and work with others in their support system to provide legal advice, guidance and care. This process of eldercaring coordination will:

  • Help manage high conflict family dynamics so that the elder, family and stakeholders can address their non-legal issues independently from the court;
  • Ready the elder and family to work with collaterals to address medical, care and financial issues, avoiding delays and resulting in better decisions for the elder;
  • Foster self-determination of the elder and family for as long as possible;
  • Promote safety by monitoring situations at high risk for abuse or neglect, as it relates to elders and vulnerable adults;
  • Provide a support system for the elder and family during times of transition, and;
  • Reduce the need for court intervention in family issues concerning the needs and care of elders.

For more information about Eldercaring Coordination, or if you believe you have a case that might be appropriate for the process, please contact the Pilot Site Administrator, Jennifer Branch, at 813-276-2726, or General Magistrate Sean Cadigan, at 813-276-8517.  You can also link to the Statewide Pilot Site's website, at http://www.eldercaringcoordinationfl.org/.  The 13th Circuit is excited about this Pilot Program and we look forward to working with members of the community on this project.

Educational Opportunity - Mark Your Calendars! Non-Professional/Family Guardians

Florida Law requires every person appointed by the court to be a guardian to receive a minimum of 8 hours of instruction and training on guardianship related matters (four hours of instruction required for guardians of a minor, property only), within four (4) months after appointment as guardian. Family Guardianship classes have been approved and developed by the Elder Justice Center, and are designed to inform those who have been assigned to be a guardian for a child or an elderly person. The class provides individuals with information on the responsibilities necessary to perform the duties of a guardian.

Be prepared to take care of a family member or a minor who is in need of your care. 

  • Learn how to complete your annual reports to the Court
  • Learn how to protect the rights of the incapacitated
  • Learn how to assist in managing their finances

Family Guardianship Class Schedule 2017
8-hour Class, for Guardians of an Adult (Person and/or Property) or a Minor (Person and Property)
April 2018, (Friday), exact date TBA, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at 800 E. Twiggs St., Room 202.  Registration fee $75.00, includes book/learning materials.

4-Hour Class, for Guardians of a Minor, Property Only
February 2018, (Friday, exact date TBD), from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 800 E. Twiggs St., Room 202.  Registration fee $35.00, includes book/learning materials.

Students may register by phone, by calling (813) 276-2726.
For parking options, please click here: http://www.tampasdowntown.com/interactive-map.aspx

Information about the class can also be found at http://www.adultadvocacyfoundation.org/familyguardians.html

Hillsborough County Financial Abuse Specialist Team (FAST) Task Force

The Thirteenth Judicial Circuit’s Elder Justice Center has been working with community partners to form a Financial Abuse Specialist Team (FAST), to address the financial abuse and exploitation of the elderly in Hillsborough County. Persons over the age of 60 are the fastest growing segment of the population of the United States. As the older adult population continues to increase nationally, the older population in Florida has grown at an even faster rate. More than 207,000 people in Hillsborough County are over the age of 60. While a number of these older adults are Florida natives, with families who are able to care for them, many retire to the state and are without family to assist them as they become more vulnerable. We see an increasing number of older persons – living longer, living alone, bereft of family support and, consequently at greater risk of abuse and exploitation.

The Elder Justice Center, established over 10 years ago to help ensure that elderly citizens in Hillsborough County have fair and reasonable access to the courts, has repeatedly found cases of financial exploitation to be a particularly challenging area of our justice system. We know that, nationally, crimes of elder abuse and exploitation have been under-prosecuted. A number of factors have contributed to this situation – gaps between criminal justice and social services, misperception that exploitation is a civil matter rather recognizing that it might be criminal conduct, lack of public awareness and how to respond to it, and a lack of specialized detectives and prosecutors who have special training and experience in the investigation and prosecution of these crimes.

Our initial workgroup meeting included a presentation by Bob Lang, from the national law firm of Holland & Knight, who gave us information on The Mickey Rooney Elder Abuse Pro Bono Project of Holland & Knight, an exciting new resource for victims of elder abuse. The Holland & Knight project has helped pave the way for this effort – making now the perfect time to take a look at what is best for our community. If you can participate in our workgroup meetings or support it through lending your time or expertise, please do so.

Convince your organizations and colleagues that now is the time to take a stand against elder abuse. If we don’t do something to improve our community’s response to the financial exploitation of the elderly, we will all ultimately pay the price.

For more information about the Hillsborough County FAST Task Force, call the Elder Justice Center at 813-276-2726, or email us at elder@fljud13.org

Money Smart for Older Adults

Money Smart for Older Adults (MSOA) is an instructor-led training developed jointly by FDIC and CFPB. The module provides awareness among older adults and their caregivers on how to prevent elder financial exploitation and to encourage advance planning and informed financial decision-making.

FDIC and CFPB invite stakeholders to order and begin teaching what elder financial exploitation is and why older adults are at risk. MSOA is a tool for bank-community partnerships. For example, bank staff could deliver this information in collaboration with providers of senior services or adult protective services.

There are seven segments covering the following topics:

  • Common Types of Elder Financial Exploitation
  • Scams Targeting Veterans
  • Identity Theft
  • Medical Identity Theft
  • Scams that Target Homeowners
  • Planning for Unexpected Life Events
  • How to Be Financially Prepared for Disasters

The instructor-led curriculum is available as a downloadable order. If you encounter difficulty downloading the product, please notify the FDIC by writing to communityaffairs@fdic.gov .

The Participant/Resource Guide is available in PDF format from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.

On Guard for Seniors
The Department of Financial Services has developed a web site for seniors titled On Guard for Seniors. Every day, seniors are flooded with promises of wealth and requests for charitable contributions and are being exposed to targeted fraud opportunities. The result is that new financial decisions can be overwhelming.

The On Guard for Seniors website at www. MyFloridaCFO.com/OnGuard includes specific information related to annuities, reverse mortgages, long-term care insurance and identity theft, and helps seniors learn more about these topics, their potential pitfalls and how to protect themselves. Also, On Guard for Seniors provides educational videos and explanations of how some insurance and financial products work.

Professional Guardian Fee Guidelines
Click here to view the guardian fee guidelines for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit.

01-22-10 Guardianship Fee Workgroup Report Approval
Click here to view the 01-22-10 Guardianship Fee Workgroup Report Approval

Professional Guardians

Professional Guardians must complete a forty (40) hour training course within one (1) year of becoming a professional guardian. This course must be approved by the Office of  Public & Professional Guardians. You can view current class offerings at CE broker https://www.cebroker.com/courses/search. Under COURSE TYPE Click ‘Live” under the SUBJECT AREA select “Initial 40 Hour Course”. Under LOCATION select “Florida”. Leave all the other fields blank to see courses throughout Florida. New classes are added as they become available.

Professional guardians are also required to obtain continuing education credits, and pass an exam. Sixteen (16) continuing education hours must be completed every two (2) years. Contact the local guardianship association chapter president, Julie Goddard, at (813) 961-4240 for continuing education opportunities. Further information on continuing education opportunities and the guardianship exam can be found at the Office of Public & Professional Guardians

Serving on the Court’s “Guardianship Examining Committee”

The Guardianship Examining Committee consists of qualified professionals and lay persons who make an assessment in regard to an alleged incapacitated person and report to the Court, to assist the Court in making a determination as to that person’s ability to exercise certain legal rights.  

The work product of the Examining Committee is an essential consideration of the Guardianship Court, before declaring a person to be legally incapacitated, in whole or in part, and before removing any of that person’s rights and, potentially, delegating some of those rights to a legal guardian.  

Appointments to the Committee are made each year by the Chief Judge or his designee.  Applications are only accepted for a limited time annually.   A completed Application is required, along with a résumé reflecting relevant experience.   Additionally, applicants are required to submit to a criminal background check and are subject to both initial and ongoing training requirements. Payment for the services of an Examining Committee Member is made in accordance with the applicable Administrative Order(s) of this Court. 

Applications from prospective new members of the Committee are only accepted during November and/or December of each year, for service on the next year’s Examining Committee. When the Application Period has been determined, you will find an item in the “ANNOUNCEMENTS” section of the Court’s homepage, with the deadline and a link to the actual Application.   If you wish to be notified when the next Application Period begins, please send an e-mail, to elder@fljud13.org, with your contact information.

●For more detailed information about the Examining Committee, click here.

●The applicable Administrative Orders are Nos.  S-2007-088 (Guardianship Examining Committee Fees) and S-2013-040 (Guardianship Procedures).

●To contact us with questions or to be notified when the next Application Period begins, please send an e-mail to: elder@fljud13.org.


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