IN THE CIRCUIT COURT, SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

IN AND FOR PASCO AND PINELLAS COUNTIES, FLORIDA

 

ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 2009-036 PA/PI-CIR

 

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RE:     GUARDIANSHIP

In order for the Court in Pasco and Pinellas Counties to adequately and effectively protect those incapacitated persons who are placed in guardianships; and

In order to provide for the effective and efficient review of guardianship accountings, plans, and inventories; and

In order to ensure compliance with statutory time frames for both the Clerk of the Circuit Court (Clerk) and the Court’s review of guardianship accountings, plans, and inventories, including but not limited to Chapter 744, Florida Statutes, and Part III of the Florida Probate Rules; and

In order to respond effectively to the current economic climate and the resulting budget reductions for both the Clerk and the Court and to provide more efficient operations related to guardianship review and administration; and

In order to effectuate the timely background investigations of proposed and appointed guardians; and

Pursuant to Rule of Judicial Administration 2.215, and §§ 29.0195 and 43.26, Florida Statutes, it is hereby:

ORDERED:

A.        BACKGROUND INVESTIGATIONS

1.         Professional and nonprofessional guardians may be required to submit periodically to credit and criminal background checks.  At any time, the Court may require a nonprofessional guardian to undergo additional credit or criminal history background checks.

2.         All professional guardians shall comply with the background check requirements of Chapter 744, Florida Statutes and shall submit proof of registration with the Statewide Public Guardianship Office upon filing a petition and Application.  

3.         Each proposed guardian shall submit with his or her petition an Application and a completed checklist for Guardianship Applications.  Professional and nonprofessional guardians shall pay all fees associated with the application as required by the Florida Statutes.     

4.         The Clerk shall continue to do the following:                                                                              

a.         Upon filing of a Petition to Determine Incapacity and Appointment of Guardian, collect from each proposed guardian the investigation fee to conduct the credit and criminal background checks pursuant to the Florida Statutes.

b.         At the time an Application for Appointment of Guardian is filed, make a copy of the Application and forward it along with the signed release required by the Department of Children and Families to the Probate and Guardianship Division, where the release form will be forwarded to the Department of Children and Families for investigation.

c.         Forward the results of any criminal history check conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement within three (3) days of receipt to the general magistrate or such other person as directed by the Court.

 

B.       GUARDIANSHIP AND INCAPACITY PROCEDURES

The following procedures are instituted and shall be adhered to:

1.         Determination of Capacity

a.         The court-approved form Application for Appointment of Guardian shall be utilized within the trial courts of the Sixth Judicial Circuit by any resident petitioner seeking the determination of capacity of an individual located within Pasco or Pinellas County and shall be filed contemporaneously with the Petition.

b.         The Clerk shall continue to do the following:

i.    accept the Petition to Determine Capacity, Petition for Appointment of Guardian and Application when filed contemporaneously and assign separate case numbers that shall be, wherever practicable, sequential in number.

ii.   immediately upon receipt of the Petition to Determine Capacity, prepare the Notice to Alleged Incapacitated Person, Order Appointing Examining Committee, and Order Appointing Counsel for the Alleged Incapacitated Person for presentation to the Court.  The members of the Examining Committee and the Court Appointed Counsel for the Alleged shall be chosen on a rotational basis from the Court approved lists.

iii. serve by regular mail a copy of the Petition to Determine Capacity and Petition for Appointment of Guardian upon appointed counsel and all known next of kin of the alleged incapacitated person.

iv.  present a copy of the Petition to Determine Capacity, Verified Petition for Appointment of Guardian, Notice and Statement of Rights to the process server for service on the alleged incapacitated person.

v.   in addition to monitoring the Return of Service, monitor the completion of the committee’s report to ensure that appropriate statutory time frames are met.

vi.  provide a notice to the process server directing the process server to read the petitions and Notice and Statement of Rights to the alleged incapacitated person and to return to the Clerk’s Office the Return of Service for filing in the Court file.

2.         Adjudicatory Hearing

a.         The petitioner, petitioner’s counsel, the alleged incapacitated person, counsel for the alleged incapacitated person, the proposed guardian, and counsel for the proposed guardian shall attend the adjudicatory hearing.  The Court may waive attendance by the alleged incapacitated person, upon request of the alleged incapacitated person’s counsel.   

b.         The Clerk may be required to attend any adjudicatory hearing and keep court minutes.

C.       IMPLEMENTATION OF NEW GUARDIANSHIP ACCOUNTING, PLAN, AND INVENTORY FORMS

1.         All accountings, plans, and inventories shall be filed on court approved forms.  Information on obtaining forms and instructions is available on the Court Web site http://www.jud6.org/.

2.         The Clerk shall continue to do the following:

a.         Upon the issuance of Letters of Guardianship, produce a computer generated Guardianship filing schedule to be distributed with the Letters of Guardianship to the guardian and the attorney for the guardianship.

b.         Conduct the statutorily required audit of all initial, annual, or final guardianship reports pursuant to Chapter 744, Florida Statutes, in accordance with the following procedures:

i.    Upon completion of the audit of the initial, annual, or final guardianship report, the Clerk shall submit their audit sheet listing any discrepancies to the general magistrate or other such person as directed by the Court for review. 

ii.   If discrepancies are identified, prepare and forward to the general magistrate’s office or to such other person as directed by the Court an order disapproving the initial, annual, or final accounting, plan, or inventory listing all discrepancies and giving the guardian thirty (30) days to respond.     

iii.  Prepare an Order to File Required Documents and send it directly to the judge for signature, if a guardian fails to timely file the accounting, plan, or inventory.  The Order shall provide that the guardian shall have fifteen (15) days within which to comply.

iv.  Monitor the thirty (30) day filing requirement and the compliance with the order disapproving the initial, annual, or final accounting, plan, or inventory.  If the guardian fails to file any response to the order disapproving the accounting, plan, or inventory or the Order to File Required Documents, the Clerk shall prepare an Order to Show Cause and submit it as directed by the section judge, either to the judge for signature or to the general magistrate for review.

v.   Review the documents filed in accordance with the order disapproving the initial, annual, or final accounting, plan, or inventory or Order to File Required Documents and forward the file with the audit sheet to the section judge or general magistrate for review.

3.         All other audits, including random field audits, shall only be conducted pursuant to court order.

4.         If the documents filed are insufficient, an Order to File Required Documents or To Show Cause will be issued and a hearing scheduled before the judge.  The hearing may only be cancelled or continued by written order of the Court.

5.         Motions for extensions of time for filing any required document shall be made in writing prior to the time the document is due.  The motion shall disclose whether or not an extension of time has previously been granted for the same or similar filing.  The parties shall allege good cause on which the extension is sought and that the time requested is sufficient.  No motion for extension of time shall be heard orally.  Counsel shall ensure that all interested parties receive adequate notice of all such motions.

  D.      DISASTER PLAN  

Each initial guardianship plan shall include a Disaster Plan, which sets forth the procedures and plans in place for the ward in the event an evacuation order or other emergency order is issued by federal, state, or local officials.  The Disaster Plan shall take into account and reflect how each ward’s special needs will be met under the plan in the event the guardian or ward has relocated temporarily due to an evacuation order, emergency order, or other emergency situation.  The Disaster Plan must be updated if the ward permanently changes residence or if a new guardian is appointed.  Information on obtaining forms and instructions related to the disaster plan is available on the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court Web site http://www.jud6.org/.  If the ward is a minor child residing with his or her parent or other relative who is serving as guardian, that guardian shall be exempt from the requirement of filing a disaster plan.

Administrative Order PA/PI-CIR-2006-079 is hereby rescinded.

            DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida this _____ day of June 2009.

_____________________________ Robert J. Morris, Jr., Chief Judge

cc:        All Judges

            The Honorable Bernie McCabe, State Attorney

            The Honorable Bob Dillinger, Public Defender

            The Honorable Ken Burke, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Pinellas County

            The Honorable Paula S. O’Neil, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Pasco County

            Jackson Flyte, Regional Counsel

            Debbie Gay, Assistant Court Services Director, Pasco County Clerk’s Office

            Suzanne Mucklow, Executive Director, Pinellas County Clerk’s Office      

            Gay L. Inskeep, Trial Courts Administrator

            Bar Associations, Pasco and Pinellas County

            Law Libraries, Pasco and Pinellas County