Sequence of events

An appointment for Guardianship is filed with the Escambia Circuit Court in Pensacola, Florida.

A petition to dismiss the Guardianship of Ernestine K. Franks was filed. Because Ernestine had named in her advance directives her Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate, Pre need Guardian along with a Trust that was designated to pay all of her expenses. There was no need for a Guardianship. Judge Jan Shackelford dismissed the petition.

Because of decisions by the Escambia Circuit Court in Florida, Douglas Franks was dismissed as Ernestine's Pre need Guardian, Health Care Surrogate, and had his Power of Attorney removed. Her carefully crafted advance directives, plus clear court testimony, and neurologist report just two days before the final court date that stated she was of sound mind in making Douglas her guardian were dismissed. Douglas Franks was deemed unfit.

Douglas took and completed the required 8-hour Family Guardianship class at Pensacola State College the day after the court case. This course is offered twice a year. The Judge stated there was no reason to take it now but she could not stop him.  He is hoping this would validate him as a guardian someday.

At the request of the for profit guardians, with the agreement of the court, her three boys are restriction on contacting her and she has little or no way to contact them. They are restricted from what they can say to her, and some subjects are not allowed. Her life is now controlled completely by a 3rd party guardian, a stranger, she neither knows nor wants. 

On 10/15/2012 Ernestine’s beloved dog “Sheba” had to be euthanized to end her pain and suffering. The Veterinarian explained that Ernestine’s caregivers had not been giving her the daily pill she required due to a condition similar to asthma, which caused her to be put down. Ernestine watched her dog suffocate to death for 15 days. 
Ernestine was extremely distraught after losing her “little girl”   

10/16/12 Douglas contacted the guardian requesting a visit to comfort his mother while she mourned. He was immediately cut off from any contact with her and threatened with a restraining order because he was upsetting her.  An emergency court hearing date of 12/12/12 was scheduled to determine if Douglas could begin to have contact again. The guardians forbid Doug to talk about the dog at any time to his mother, even if she brought it up.

There was a one-hour court hearing but time ran out before Douglas had a turn to be represented. The Judge asked Douglas’ lawyer to come back later that day to finish but the lawyer said, “Sorry I have to catch a flight”. He was then asked if he could come back later that week, but he could not. However the Judge then stated we are here to make a schedule and made no allowance for Doug’s counsel’s schedule.  The judge adopted the Guardians’ draconian restrictions as a court order. Ernestine’s isolation from the outside world was complete and official.

Ernestine had Easter lunch with both Charles and Douglas (the first family visit since the nightmare began 10 months previously).  The guardian and their attorney thought it was too much for Ernestine to be with 2 sons and again isolated her from her family and outside world:  eight days later her sons were served with a injunction that denied them “ANY” contact with their 91 year old mother.  It would be 155 days before this 91 year old would be able to see or talk to her all of her family again.

Doug and his brothers were distraught, wondering what their mother thought when she no longer gets a daily phone call from any of her three sons?  “Do my children care about me anymore”?

Douglas (acting pro se) filed an emergency motion for supervised visitation with the ward on Mother’s Day 2013

The guardian’s counsel (with 20+ years of experience with Pensacola court proceedings) emailed Douglas that the order never showed up on the court docket and although she claimed she worked hard to make the Mother’s Day visit happen said it was out of her control.

Ernestine spends maybe her last Mother’s Day alone.

However, on Monday 5/13/13 Douglas found out the court order allowing a visit had been signed on 5/10/13. A simple call to the Clerk of the Court was required to learn this,  a fact every attorney practicing in Pensacola Circuit Court is or should be aware of.

More “court ordered” restrictions were put in place that included Ernestine paying $100 per hour to have a supervisor closely monitor visits with her children.  One of the supervisor’s duties is to make sure nothing prohibited is talked about. Ernestine now pays a total of $600 for the 2 three hour weekend visits.

Email from Judicial Assistant, Yvonne Burnette stating Judge Jan Shackelford is not happy Charles and Doug did not get to see their mother on Mothers day.

A court date has been set then reset just to determine if Ernestine will be allowed future phone calls and visits with her family.  

The court date was reset for 10/1/13, a delay of 4 months.

The court kept the isolation tight around Ernestine.  There has been a cost of $90,719.56 in legal fees alone through from June 2012 to November 2013; Ernestine herself has paid the law firm working for the guardians resulting in her continuing isolation from her family.  The guardians, well defended by their lawyers, provide the following care: 
•	caretakers who buy for themselves and their charge all the fast food they can eat, to Ernestine’s detriment.  They are not required to cook inexpensive and healthy home-cooked food.

•	a $100 per hour social worker to create reports which are often misleading about her son’s visits.  
•	There is no physical therapy, limited or no interaction with the out side world.
•	Because of restrictions put in place by the guardians there are no trips for Ernestine to places she enjoyed, such as the Bayview Dog Beach. 
•	She is virtually a prisoner in her own house, with no or little outside trips to stimulate her.  She is subject to TV, chosen by the caregivers, sometimes inappropriate. 
•	Space prohibits the list of activities that have been curtailed.

Ernestine paid close to $415,000.00 in 2013 to stay in her own home in Pensacola FL under the guardianship that was put in place for her own good.  Florida laws provide no ombudsman system or legal recourse to this life sentence.  The probate court rules her life.

12/26/13 Ernestine has all 3 boys at home for Christmas and pays for two supervisors a total of  $740.00.  Merry Christmas to the supporting cast!

Douglas Franks reported what he considers a case of elder abuse, and soon received a call that he would have charges filed against him for making a false report to The Florida Department of Elder Affairs. He now lives in fear of being arrested on any of his trips to see his mother.

Trip to the Florida State Capital. A group of the children of Guardianship abuse victims presented their concerns to both the Florida House and Senate sub committee meetings on Guardianship.  State Representative Kathleen C. Passidomo  went as far to say that the  current Guardianship Laws are archaic and in need of a complete over haul 2/19/14.

A letter from House Representative Mike Hill District 2 after he is shown the facts of Elder exploitation.

A petition was submitted to the court to remove the Guardian. In the Petition it stated that the Guardian had hired “un licensed care givers” to take care of Ms. Franks that put her safety at risk. They also used long term insurance money that they were not entitled to.

West Florida Home Care Services, LLC submitted a letter to the court that they could no longer serve Ms. Franks due to the threats and verbal abuse from her children. No example of the abuse are given in the letter.  For 23 month Roger L. Brown Ernestine's Synovus Trust manger paid the unlicensed Home Health care givers with no questions asked.  John Handcock long term care insurance was cutting West Florida Home Care Services LLC off for being unlicensed. 

AHCA the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration did an unannounced inspection to West Florida Home care LLC and found 4 violations the most agrees giving out medications with out a license. 

A court hearing for the approval of the 2013 annual accounting. All  receipts were stuffed in 2 large trash bags that had to be gone through to  where ..... was asked questions and Judge Jan Shackelford stated that if answered the questions she could be incriminated  and she suggested that she have a attorney. When the Judge was pressed for accounting irregularities she stated on two occasions “ I know where you are going and we are not going there today” 
The Judge is in place to be a unbiased referee but can easily give one side a uneven advantage. That is what is believed to have happened in the Guardianship of Ernestine Franks.

Donna Potts stated that she even tried to rehire West Florida Home Care LLC but that they would not accept the offer. Again the same Service that is UNLINCED in the State of Florida to provide service to a “totally incapacitated person”!

The Judge stated that she would go ahead and OK the 2013 accounting but unlike her “the Judge” being a only child the Guardian has a the Franks boys looking over their shoulder and they need to start doing a better job starting 7/1/14

The Judge also stated that she had NO oversight of control over Synovus Trust but that she would like to see the charges form the Guardians and Lawyers from this point on.....2 years to late

Judge asked William Bond  one of two attorneys for the Guardian if it was common practice for the ward to pay for their caregivers meals (over 233 time in 2013) His reply was “Yes I think  so”.  In fact it is not a common practice because it is financial exploitation of the totally incapacitated person! There are also 36 missing receipts that the guardian signed a affidavit for, that is perjury. When the Judges ask William Bond about them his reply was “that to troubles me”. The apology was good enough for the Judge to sweep the illegal misconduct under the rug.

In the stipulated order any of the sons can take Ernestine Franks out to eat and spend 1.5 hours with her. For this privilege they must give weeks notice and give the name of the eating establishment. For two of the sons that will be drive close to 800 miles to have lunch with their mother for 1.5 hours then must leave.  She will not be allowed contact with them for another week.

There was questions of the billing for both the Guardian and Law firm.  To address this a new court date was set because the Guardians Lawyer wanted to bring in a professional witness for $5,000. The witness was the current Judges mentor so there is a conflict a new Judge will need to be seated.

The new court date is for 1/26/15 that will determine if the latest billing of the lawyer is ligament. If approved it will just give card blank to finish depleting Ernestine’s estate. 
The matter of the Guardians fees was approved even though objections were never presented. This is just business as usual in Probate court under Judge Jan Shalkaord.  If you point out abuses you get abused more for it.

The guardian and her attorney operate under the guise of “protecting” Ernestine while they drain her financially and isolate her from her loved ones.

Ernestine has averaged spending over $1,000.00 PER-DAY. Her total spent to-date under Guardianship is now over $1,000,000.00

Ernestine's Guardians are Terry Bell Bush and Donna Potts.
On there website they state the following

“Ensuring safety, Nurturing independence, Sustaining relationships”.
“The goal of effective guardianship is to be able to restore the rights of the individual who, for whatever reason, has had some of them removed by a court after due process. It is true that in many instances once a guardianship has been initiated by a court, it is in place until the incapacitated person dies. However, an annual review and assessment will monitor the need for maintaining or terminating a guardianship, and alert the court to a potential restoration of some or all of the incapacitated person's rights.”
“The guiding principle in all guardianship is that of least intrusive measures to assure as much autonomy as possible. The guardian's authority is defined by the court and the guardian may not operate outside that authority. A guardian may be a family member or friend or a public or private entity appointed by the court.”

 Her children have no say and she has no say, in her life. She is a prisoner in her own home!

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Ernestine’s life

Ernestine Franks was born in Pensacola, FL Escambia County where she has lived for 92 years. Her childhood was that of most of her era hard workers and close family that suffered but gained insight from the Great Depression and WWII. She went off to Bowling Green Business College were she majored in business. 

Upon her return she was employed by GMAC and held down two other part time jobs. She met her future husband Charles Watts Franks at one of her part time jobs at Walgreens. Charles asked her to pick out a bathing suit for him then he asked her out.  They were married soon after and spent the next 53 years raising their three sons and serving their country at Pensacola Navel Air Station in the Civil Service. Ernestine was in Cost Accounting and moved up quickly to a supervisor  position. Charles was a top metalsmith of over 33 years.  If a job was to hard for someone else the word was  “Put Franks on it.”

They saved their money and invested it wisely and put their children through the best schools to ensure they would get the best education. They were quite involved with their children from band to football games  to going on over seas trips to England and China. Ernestine was even the manager for her middle sons rock in roll band in the 70s.  Ernestine and Charles’ life was devoted to their boys and always went the extra mile for them. 

2011 Ernestine health became more of a concern of her children. Safety measures were implemented for Ernestine. Her home care turned into 24/7 care, 8 video cameras that sent notifications if any movement was detected inside or out at nighttime, and video conference with her on her iPad. Home improvements were also made including a stair lift, ramps, guard rails inside and outside, grab handles, and a glass front storm door.

2012 one of her children was told by a attorney that the best care for Ernestine was to be in a Guardianship. Not being fully aware of how life could change he proceeded to set in motion the wheels that he would later find out stripped her of all her rights and dignity, isolated her from her children and the outside world but also sacked her life savings. Her attorney fees are closing in on $100,000.00 in just a years time. Ernestine faces the end of her days with the prospect of being alone but if she lives long enough she will find her loneliness to be in a state run institution because she is broke. 

The only crimes Ernestine committed was working hard, saving her money and just living to long. She and her husband contributed greatly to the city of Pensacola and in the end it was the city's elected and legal representatives that turned their back and took advantage of her vulnerability. Her civil rights were stripped away by a three panel committee that lied to the court about her capacity. The Dr. that did evaluate her just two days before her court date opinion after a four hour evaluation was she was of sound mind to pick her guardian and understood the ramifications of such a decision. His opinion did not fit what the Judge and her court appointed attorney wanted the out come to be so it was discarded.