Ernestine Franks:  The Introduction

In 2011, when Ernestine, a widow, was 89 years old, her oldest son Charles, wanted her to move to New Orleans, where he resides.  But she wanted to remain in her home so measures were put into place by her youngest son, Doug, so she continue to stay in her own home.  Her 4 hour per day home care turned into 24/7, eight video cameras were installed so Doug could keep a close eye on her. Guardrails, grab bars and a stair lift was installed.  All was well.  Then in 2012, Charles who still believed his mother should move to New Orleans was ill advised by Ernestine’s own Synovus Trust manager Roger Brown, stating that the best care for her was a guardianship, and referred him to an attorney, who agreed.  Not being fully aware of how life would change for his mother, Charles proceeded to set in motion the wheels that would later strip her of all rights and dignity, isolate her and begin to drain her of her life savings.

10/31/16  Ernestine was given back to her family on after a 4 year and 4 month fight....She passed away a Free Woman on 12/16/16 in her sons, Doug's arms.  “Mom I love you and everything will be ok”

Ernestine: The Synopsis

In her bank controlled Trust, designed by Ernestine Franks and her husband Charles in 2000, Article One says the purpose of the Trust is to keep Ernestine out of a guardianship.  In addition it was clear that if a guardian was necessary, she wanted a son to be her guardian. YET, starting June 2012 Ernestine Franks, by then age 90, has been under the control of 3rd party, commercial, for-profit court appointed guardiansThis was done in spite of her own clear court testimony that she did not want to be under a commercial guardianship, testimony of a clinical neuropsychologist of her sound mind and ability to make decisions, and her carefully crafted advance directive. The Probate Court Judge of Escambia County Florida chose not to follow this testimony and appointed a commercial guardian in direct opposition to what Ernestine Franks wanted and planned. The court and third party strangers, paid for by her, were now in absolute control of her life.

The judge approved the following restrictions at the request of the commercial for-profit guardian company, Gulf Coast Caring Solutions. (

Upon appointment the guardians dismantled the long distance video monitoring installed by son Doug Franks to insure Ernestine’s safety and removed the iPad games and videoconferencing, which functioned to amuse her, let her talk to family, and keep her mind stimulated.

Ernestine’s three sons were prohibited from contacting her without the permission of the guardians.

♣Not only could her sons no longer spend the night in the home where they grew up, they couldn’t visit her at will.

♣Her sons could no longer take their mother out to places she had enjoyed all her life: they were “not appropriate.”  When they did go they had to have a caregiver with them.

♣Her sons were restricted from calling their mother.  When they did get permission to call many questions she had were prohibited conversation: why strangers were now in her home/why her sons no longer spent the night/anything to do with the guardianship/what had happened to her so abruptly/ why and how her life had changed. The Gulf Coast Caring Solutions’ caregiver listened and could cut off the conversation by her choice, and did so.

One of the most outrageous events was the death in October 2012 of Ernestine’s beloved dog Sheba. The simple cause?  Lack of daily medication:


Ernestine was distraught. Everyone in the family was upset. But by order of the Escambia Probate Court Judge --- at the request of the guardians --- her sons were not allowed to help their mother grieve either in person or by a phone call. To enforce this ban regarding Sheba or any other issues that the guardians deemed upsetting, ALL communication from her sons was cut off for 2 months.   It took a court case brought by son Doug Franks to reverse this so communication could resume, but Sheba’s death (even saying her name) and other subjects were still off limits.

For four months in early 2013 family were allowed to visit with time restrictions, and many subjects were still not allowed in conversation.  But, again in April 2013, after a family Easter lunch, the sons were served with an injunction denying them ANY contact with their now 91-year-old mother.  Reason given:  it was ‘too much’ for their mother based on the caretaker’s report. It would be 155 days before this mother would be able to see all of her family again together at one time.  Her isolation was complete. The boys wondered what their mother must be thinking when she no longer receives phone calls: Does anyone care about me at all? I’ve been abandoned.”

How it worked: the daily caregivers, who often had an acrimonious oppositional relationship with the family, reported to the ownership of the guardian company that Ernestine was ‘upset’ during a given conversation with a son who was visiting or phoning.  Based on the interpretation and judgment of these women, based on their word alone, via their reports to the attorneys of the guardianship or the owners themselves, then the court was told.  The probate court accepted the information as reported as true, resulting in court orders to prohibit Ernestine from talking or being with her sons. 

(Note: in 2014 it was discovered by the family that the caregivers hired by Gulf Coast Caring Solutions were unlicensed for “home health care” meaning dispensing medicine, which they had been doing on a daily basis.)

Since 2012 Ernestine’s three sons have brought numerous requests for more accountability.  The caretakers were accusing the sons of upsetting and endangering their mother. The sons brought the requests to the Escambia County Florida Probate Court for relief from the restrictions.  To their astonishment these requests did not provide the relief they hoped for.  Instead the requests resulted in more and tighter restrictions and appeared to be retaliation by the guardians.  The sons were questioning how accurately their visits were being reported?  OK, so now there was a court-ordered ‘monitor’ who must sit in on every visit to listen to what is talked about and to write a report for the guardians, but not available to the sons: cost of the monitor is $100/hour.  As of spring 2015 this is about $15,000 --- paid for by Ernestine so her sons can spend time with her --- when the guardians and court allows.

Ernestine, now 93 years old, is still under “house arrest”. Upon petition to the guardians a son may have a monitored visit a few hours at a time on the weekends. In spite of these visits, Ernestine is living a one-dimensional life, isolated from her family and what most people consider normal activities.

Her three sons have been vigilant in efforts to free their mother from the egregious restrictions on her and her family by the probate court and the for-profit guardians.  As a result (1) the attorneys for Gulf Coast Caring Solutions, (2) the attorneys for the bank controlled Trust, (3) the West Florida Homecare owner plus (4) Adult Protective Services for the state of Florida accused Ernestine’s sons of harassment in written documents filed with the Escambia County Florida Probate Court.

The cost in early 2015 of the for-profit guardianship, instituted by the probate court against Ernestine’s wishes has been over ONE Million DOLLARS. The Escambia County Florida Probate Court had the power to cancel all plans for her life, and has done so. 

While those who are profiting from Ernestine are busy protecting their own lucrative interests (which has cost her Trust one million dollars) and accusing the sons of harassment, her sons have joined other families who have had similar experiences.  IN 2015 THERE ARE SIX BILLS IN THE FLORIDA LEGISLATURE TO CLEAN UP THE DEPLORABLE CONDITIONS REGARDING FOR-PROFIT GUARDIANSHIP ABUSES. Florida in addition to other retirement states is particularly subject to guardianship problems.

Ernestine Franks: The Conclusion

Ernestine is facing the end of her days with the prospect of being alone, isolated from her family.  If she lives long enough she will find herself in a state run institution because her carefully earned money from a successful frugal life will be in the pockets of Synovus Bank and Trust, the commercial for-profit Gulf Coast Caring Solutions guardians and their attorneys, and 24/7 health care services.  All the plans she and Charles made are for naught.  Her savings --- meant for a comfortable safe old age --- will be gone.  This is legal, sanctioned by the Probate Court of Escambia County, Florida, which now runs her life; Ernestine’s and her family’s wishes have no power.

Of course, living this confined life, her mental acuity has suffered. Initially when the court and for-profit guardians took over her life, she was an active woman for her age of 90: interested in everything around her, loving to go out to her favorite places.  She had some memory problems, which would be expected, but she knew who she was, and what she wanted.  Now she has been in a confined environment --- kept mainly in her house for three years with a single caregiver at a time, usually women with whom she has little in common, the TV on, no visitors.  Normal daily activity, interaction with family, the church, and the normal world around her, including visits to her sons’ homes a few hundred miles away, has been cut off.  IPad and Internet activities, which have shown to stimulate people of all ages, let alone the elderly, were removed. Why wouldn’t she or anyone living under these circumstances be changed?  It’s inevitable. Anyone could predict a slow slide toward more incapacitation. She is still chugging along; she has spunk, and even says, “I’m hanging in there. I’ve still got my mind.” but there has been deterioration…to be expected under these imposed conditions.  This has been the fear with which her sons have lived since 2012.

Ernestine has been shamefully treated by the courts, by the commercial care giving community, and by the Florida state government, which provides no ombudsman system, no relief, no review, and no intervention for her or her family once they were in the clutches of the guardian system and the courts.

She is a prisoner in her own home.

It is a disgrace.

Ernestine’s Story: The details

Ernestine Franks was born in 1922 in Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida, where she has lived for 93 years. Her childhood was similar to 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 supervisory position. Charles was a top metal smith of over 33 years.  If a job was too hard 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 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 three boys and always went the extra mile for them. 


4/17/12 An appointment for a probate court sanctioned guardianship is filed with the Escambia Circuit Court in Pensacola, Florida, and appeared on the probate court docket in June.

6/25/12 A petition by son Douglas Franks was filed to dismiss the April petition for a court-sanctioned guardianship of Ernestine K. Franks.  The basis of the petition: there was no need for a guardianship to be named by the Probate Court because Ernestine Franks had named in her advance directives her (1) Pre need Guardian, (2) Health Care Surrogate, (3) Power of Attorney and had created (4) a Trust to pay all of her expenses. Probate Court Judge Jan Shackelford dismissed this petition to recognize Ms. Franks previous plans for her years of retirement.  The petition was denied on the day it was filed by presiding Judge Jan Shakelford, who proceeded to place Ernestine Franks under a commercial for-profit guardianship.

6/29/12 By order of the Escambia Circuit Court in Florida, Douglas Franks, Ernestine’s youngest son, was dismissed as Ernestine's Pre need Guardian, Health Care Surrogate, and had his Power of Attorney removed. Ernestine’s personally stated preferences in court were dismissed, and the written report in favor of Ernestine’s ability to make decisions was filed but not taken into consideration by the judge. Her son Douglas Franks was deemed unfit to be her guardian by the court.  A commercial for-profit guardian was named to be in charge of Ms. Franks: Gulf Coast Caring Solutions.

                                   The Georgia connection

                Promoting For-Profit Guardianship for ERNESTINE

Roger L. Brown, Ernestine's Synovus Bank Trust officer, testified in court directly against (Article 1) of the Franks

Trust  “to keep it out of Guardianship proceedings”. Mr. Brown recommended guardianship be given to a 3rd party

stranger and not her son Douglas Franks. Ernestine had not only designated Douglas to be her Guardian but also

testified in court and documentation was provided from a neurologist report stating the same under sound mind.

For two months Ernestine was still cared for by a home care service plus a live-in caretaker hired by her son, and by her son who visited weekly.

9/1/12 Gulf Coast Caring Solutions takes over.  The caretakers immediately began reporting on conversations with sons and their mother. Ernestine was understandably upset and confused over the wholesale change in caretakers with new unknown faces in the house. She wanted to know what had happened. Doug tried to answer her questions:

•“Why are all these new faces here?

•“Who are they?”

•“Why did this happen?  I can’t hear good, but I haven’t had a stroke.”

•“I want to get out of this!”

•“Why can’t I get my money out of the bank?”

•“I’ll sue the **^## out of them!”

When Doug answered her questions truthfully, saying, “The court said you have to have a guardian. The bank has been notified not to allow you to do withdraw money.” Ernestine was understandably unhappy.  Doug was in the house about 3 days, trying to help his mother, who continued to ask questions about the change in her life. He talked to her about how they might be able to get her out of the guardianship, which she asked and wanted to hear about. The caretakers overheard these conversations, and reported that Doug was upsetting his mother. On 9/5 Doug was called and ordered to leave the house: “you have stayed too long.”

9/3/15 After 3 years of first being alerted that West Florida Home Care Service was practicing out side of their linces they were found to be guilty of continuing to conduct fraud. $1,000.00 is not a lot but proof that the Franks boys tried to protect there mother when no one else would.

9/11/12 The three sons were sent a letter by the for-profit guardians. The letter ordered no contact of any kind with their mother for the next 3 weeks. It forbad them to ever spend the night in the house that Ernestine had lived in for 52 years. Visits would only be for only two-hour duration twice a day with a three-hour break in-between. Ernestine would be driven by caregivers only. There is also a list of topics not to be discussed.

After this date she has no way to contact her children. This date officially begins the restrictive control of her life by a 3rd party guardian, a stranger she neither knows nor wants. The well-known adage is in play about commercial guardians, prevalent in the families of guardian abuse victims, used as a warning and prediction:

Isolate, medicate, and liquidate.

10/15/12 Ernestine’s beloved dog “Sheba” has to be euthanized to end her pain and suffering. Their veterinarian explained that Sheba had not been given the daily pill that had been prescribed; a task Ernestine’s previous caretakers had been doing easily for a year. Sheba required this single pill due to a condition similar to asthma.  The lack of medicine caused her to be put down. Ernestine had watched her dog suffocate to death for 15 days. Ernestine, mother of three sons, was extremely distraught after losing Sheba whom she called her “little girl”.  

10/16/12 After several attempts to reach the house, Doug learned that the dog had been put down. He quickly contacted the guardians in their office requesting a visit to comfort his mother who was in an understandable state of grief. He was immediately cut off from any contact with her and threatened with a restraining order because “you are upsetting her”.  He asked for an emergency court hearing immediately to see his mother but that was refused by the guardian’s counsel and a date of 12/12/12 was scheduled to determine if Douglas could begin to have contact again. He couldn’t see or talk to his mother for 2 months.

12/12/12 There was a one-hour court hearing as requested by Doug and his attorney Jason R. Mosley .   The attorneys for the guardianship were heard first and allotted time by the court ran out before Douglas’ attorney had a turn to speak. Probate Court Judge Jan Shakelford, asked Douglas’ lawyer to come back later that day to finish but the lawyer had a flight to catch, and would be gone for several days. The Judge would not accommodate the attorney’s schedule and proceeded to adopt the Guardians’ draconian restrictions on Ernestine’s family as a court order right then, without hearing from Douglas Franks’ attorney. The rules listed in the letter of 9/11 from GCCS were now officially sanctioned by stipulated court order. This was an agreement under duress, if any son does not adhere to these rules, they will not be able to see their mother.  They will be in contempt of court and cut off completely.  Ernestine’s isolation from the outside world was complete and official.


During the next four months the sons can visit or call their mother under the preceding restrictions. Only one son at a time is allowed to be with Ernestine so that year there is no family Christmas gathering.  Doug sees her for two hours, has to come back for another two hours after a few hours break, as required by the guardians.

4/2/13 With special permission from the guardians, Ernestine had Easter lunch with both Charles and Douglas (the first family visit since the nightmare began 10 months previously) at a neighbor’s home directly across the street. They had a wonderful time full of laughter, good times, smiles and pictures.  When dinner was ready, the caretaker was given food, but asked by Charles Frank to eat in another room.  Personally, he thought she was inappropriately revealingly dressed and everybody wanted a dinner with only family and friends there.  The caretaker present apparently reported something to the guardian.  It may be that the trip across the street violated the rule that she couldn’t leave her home.  In any event, this resulted in stricter rules and again isolated her from her family and outside world: eight days after the Easter lunch her sons were served with a injunction that denied them “ANY” contact with their 91 year old mother.  It would be 155 days, almost a half-year, before this 91 year old would be able to see or talk to her family again, apparently as a result of the Easter lunch, based on the report of the caretaker working that day.

5/5/13 All three sons get an email that their mother was in the hospital the day previously, but the email doesn’t say why.  It says she will be out quickly, but that doesn’t happen.  When they tried to contact the hospital they were asked for a password, which the nurses  had been given.  Terry Bush, co-owner of Gulf Caring Solutions said the boys had not been given the password because “it would be inconvenient to the nurse to have to give Ms. Franks’ condition to each son, individually.”  After the hospital stay of about three days the sons learned that she had been dehydrated and had a urinary condition.  The doctor advised, per the guardian that Ms. Franks be on a cardio healthy diet.  They also found that their mother had had Krispy Kreme donuts before she had gone to the hospital and KFC after she left the hospital.  To their knowledge no substantive change was made in her diet and she continued to eat fast food.

5/10/13 A month later Douglas (acting pro se) filed an emergency motion for supervised visitation with the ward on Mother’s Day 2013 so she wouldn’t be alone. But Ernestine spends what Doug thinks could be maybe her last Mother’s Day alone.  How did this happen? The court order allowing a visit had been signed on 5/10/13.  However the guardian’s counsel (with 20 years experience) completely missed this on the court’s docket and emailed Doug that the motion had not been processed and so the visit was out of her control.  Based on this email he did not go and for Ernestine there was no Mother’s Day.

5/17/13 Email from Judicial Assistant Yvonne Burnette stating Judge Jan Shackelford is not happy that Charles and Doug did not get to see their mother on Mothers day.

6/5/13 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 because the father of one of the Guardians was sick. NOTE: there are two owners of GCCS.

10/1/13 Although the family petitioned for relief from the restrictions on contacting their mother, the court kept the isolation tight around Ernestine.

10/31/13 There has been a cost of $90,719.56 in legal fees alone in the 16 months from June 2012 to November 2013; Ernestine has paid the GCCS’ lawyers to defend Gulf Coast Caring Solutions in court against her own sons’ claims.  Her own money allows the onerous restrictions to continue, 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 monitor visits and create reports which are often misleading about her sons’ visits and what is said there.  These reports are kept secret, and not shared with the visiting sons, about whom the reports are written.  Without the expense of a court order they cannot see any reports. The guardians are playing an expensive frustrating game with Earnestine’s sons: the sons asked via court order to read the reports and were granted a limited amount of reports written before a certain date.  For any additional reports the sons must again go to court for litigation. Each visit they must pay their own lawyer, and Ernestine’s trust, her money, pays for the opposition lawyer for GCCS.

•There is no physical therapy required, which the guardians stopped in summer of 2012. Since then it was begun and stopped again.

•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, Saint Christopher Episcopal Church concert series, Pensacola Bands on the Beach, Windcreek Casino for the slot machines, an activity which had delighted her for years (‘not appropriate’), and visits to Seville Quarter, an area of outside bands, restaurants, and entertainment. Space prohibits the list of activities that she had enjoyed that have been curtailed by Gulf Coast Caring Solutions.


•She is virtually a prisoner in her own house, with no or few trips to the outside world to stimulate her. She had never watched much television but now she is subject to TV, chosen by the caregivers, sometimes inappropriate.  Her son found that a caregiver --- on a regular basis --- was watching a reality show called Animal Cops, featuring abused dogs brought to a veterinarians’ care for rehabilitation and often euthanasia.  His mother was visibly distressed by the show, Ernestine’s reaction apparently ignored or not evident to the caregiver. The caregiver even put in her notes “this is just life and Ms. Franks should just get used to it.”

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. Previous to the probate court decision in June 2012 the cost, carefully monitored by a son, for caretakers, including food and housing costs were $230,000 per year for the year 2011.

12/26/13 Ernestine has all 3 boys at home for Christmas four hours and pays two  court order supervisors a total of $740.00.

12/31/13 Douglas Franks reported to Florida Adult Protective Services what he considered a case of elder abuse regarding his mother, based on

•the unnecessary death of Ernestine’s dog,

•the lack of decent food,

•the isolation,

•the lack of stimulation and

•being subject to constant television watching.

He soon received a call from his own attorney, Jennifer Byrom, that he would have charges filed against him by the Escambia County state’s attorney office, reported by Adult Protective Services of Florida.  He was accused of making a false report to The Florida Department of Elder Affairs. Advised by his attorney to lay low and not to make waves, they’d see if this blows over, but if he is ordered to turn himself in Ms. Byrom told him he should call her immediately to get him out of jail.


2/11/14 Doug Franks joins a group of the children of Guardianship abuse victims who presented their concerns to both the Florida House and Senate sub committee meetings on Guardianship. The bills are SB634 and HB635.  State Representative Kathleen C. Passidomo says that the current Guardianship Laws are archaic and in need of a complete over haul.

5/29/14 AHCA the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration did an unannounced inspection to West Florida Home Care LLC and found 4 violations: 1. giving out medications to clients, 2. missing background checks, 3. missing affidavits in some employees’ records swearing to no felony violations in their background, 4. having as a business address, which was an address of an automotive garage, instead of the private home where they actually do business.

Click here for AHCA online report:,%20LLC&provider_type=Homemaker%20and%20Companion%20Service

6/30/14 A court hearing for the approval of the 2013 mandatory annual financial accounting by Gulf Coast Caring Solutions for Ernestine Franks care.

Previous to the hearing the receipts arrived stuffed in 2 large trash bags to the Gulf Coast Caring Solutions attorneys’ office: McDonald, Fleming, and Moorhead

There was no organization of these receipts

The sons’ attorney, Jennifer Byrom, who was in the offices, emailed the picture of the bags to the sons saying that they were trying to sort through all the receipts, some of which were faded.

Jennifer Byrom and her paralegal have them organized and turned into the court for the accounting.  Ernestine’s three sons are of course billed for this time resulting from the inefficiency of GCCS and their chosen caregiver service.

Doug’s attorney, Ms. Byrom, asked questions of the West Florida Home Care owner, who had been subpoenaed to appear. But Judge Jan Shackelford advised the owner that if she answered the questions she could be incriminating herself and the judge suggested that she have an attorney.

When the judge was pressed for answers by the sons’ attorney for

•Accounting irregularities such as odd timed shopping trips: a caretaker charged working time approximately once a week from 6-8 AM for shopping, but there were no receipts for that shopping at any time that day.

•Excessive eating out and high charges for two people, when one is elderly and eats very little,

•Additional charges for cleaning the house, although cleaning falls under their daily duties.

The judge replied

I know where you are going and we are not going there today.”  Thus, the judge shut down any attempt to hold either Gulf Coast Caring Solutions or the owner of West Florida Home Care accountable for the money that was being spent.

The judge stated that she would go ahead and OK the 2013 accounting. And then gave advice to the guardians, remarking that unlike herself, an only child, the guardian has the “Franks boys” looking over their shoulder at everything and GCCS and their attorneys need to start doing a better job starting 7/1/14. 

The sons lawyer, Jennifer Byrom, continued to raise questions about the costs to Ernestine’s trust account, especially the question of the huge amount of money being spent by all parties responsible for Ernestine’s care under the court order. The judge said that she had NO oversight or control over Synovus Trust but that she would like to see the charges from the guardians and their lawyers from this point on.   This is the first time the judge has expressed any concern over the huge amount of money that is being charge by the parties responsible for Ernestine Franks, two years after instituting for-profit care for Ernestine Franks.

During this hearing and in light of these expenses Judge Shakelford asked William Bond one of two attorneys for GCCS if it was common practice for the ward to pay for their caregivers’ meals (over 233 time in one year alone: 2013) He didn’t seem to know and answered “Yes I think so”.  In fact it is not a common practice because Charles and Doug Franks contacted all the home health care companies in Pensacola and found that caretakers are responsible for their own meals, NOT the ward.

The guardian, GCCS, signed an affidavit for all purchases but there were 36 missing receipts, which makes it impossible to prove where the missing money, represented by the 36 missing receipts was spent. When the Judge asked William Bond, a GCCS attorney, about the 36 missing receipts his reply was “that troubles me also”. The Judge made no attempt to follow up on the missing receipts or the money represented.


In comparison to the above sloppy accounting by caregivers, their ownership, the guardians and their attorneys, note the following strict standards the sons must adhere to:

By court order any of the sons can take Ernestine Franks out to eat and spend 1.5 hours with her. Doug Franks pays for his and his mother’s meal. For this privilege they must give 2 weeks notice and give the name of the eating establishment. For two of the sons that will be a drive over up to 700 miles to have lunch with their mother for 1.5 hours, then they must leave.  Under the court’s stipulations Ms. Franks is not be allowed contact with them for another week.

11/21/14 There were continuing questions of the billing for both Gulf Coast Caring Solutions and their 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 a previous judge, now in private practice and had been Judge Shakelford’s required mentor when she became a judge, so there is a conflict. A new judge will need to be seated to fill the seat of Jan Shackelford because she rotating to Family Court.

The new court date is for 1/26/15 that will determine if the latest billing of the lawyer is legitimate. If the billing is approved it will give a blank check to allow the depletion of Ernestine’s estate.

The matter of the Guardians fees was approved even though objections were never allowed. This appears a common practice in Probate court under Judge Jan Shakelford. 


1/22/15 Douglas Franks gives testimony at sub committee hearing on HB5 sponsored by State Representative Kathleen C. Passidomo regarding guardianship reform.

1/26/15 A new temporary judge, Judge Ross Goodman presides over the hearing to determine payment for Guardians’ attorney fees. Judge Goodman rules that neither the Guardian nor the sons have standing to challenge any billing by anybody. That responsibility is held by SYNOVUS trust. Synovus Trust Lawyer Jeremy C. Branning is present and when the judge asks what is your position on this Branning replies “I’m just here to observe”. 

1/27/15 Ernestine’s sons’ lawyer, Jennifer Byrom, requests that Synovus Trust object to the invoice by the guardians law firm McDonald, Fleming, Moorhead, which only Synovus has the power to do. Synovus Trust takes no action.

2/19/15 Synovus does not challenge any billing, but files suit to be removed from managing Ernestine’s trust

2/23/15 the son’s attorney files emergency motion to extend the time to determine reasonable attorney fees by guardians law firm.

2/24/15 Guardians law files objection to emergency motion to extend the time to determine reasonable attorney fees

3/12/15  Douglas Franks testifies on SB 1226 that Senator Nancy Deter has sponsored to address the misconduct. Here are her powerful quotes.

Florida has some of the strongest laws in the nation, really great laws,” Detert said.But some predators in this field have created their own cottage industry and are crawling through cracks in our otherwise very good laws and taking advantage of the elderly.”

“Those little cracks in the law are allowing cockroaches to crawl through and take advantage of people who are elderly,” Detert told the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee. “Let’s face it. The elderly are today’s invisible people, who are not given much credence when they complain.”

As of March 2015 the daily care service has been replaced by a properly licensed care health service.  Synovus Trust has sued to be replaced.  Judge Jan Shakelford ruled, as did Judge Goodman that the Synovus Trust for Ernestine Franks was ultimately responsible for all monies spent for her care.

4/2/15  Easter visit  is CANCELED” for Ernestine to see her boys due to the boys brazen activity on their part. It is believed that it was in retaliation for  Douglas Franks  testimony in front of the Senate and House on SB 1226 and others bills.  There are three bills that are on the floor that deal with stopping For-Profit Guardianship Abuse.

4/13/15  Douglas Franks along with others from around the US make a trip to Orlando, FL to be part of a Elder Abuse Documentary on victims of the cottage industry called professional For-Profit Guardianships.

6/1/15  The Florida Bar Newsletter front page features Ernestine’s Franks case. Legislature takes steps to rein in guardians ‘Some predators in this field have created their own cottage industry and are . . . taking advantage of the elderly’

8/24/15 There is a hearing to determine if the Guardian’s lawyer fees of $62,000 are reasonable. A hand picked attorney was chosen by McDonald Fleming Moorhead to review the billing and found nothing wrong. Douglas objected and stated that the sons had standing in the court to challenge this, according to Hayes vs. Thomson and offered to supply that ruling to the Judge. When asked if Doug Franks was doing well with his visits the Guardians attorney Belinda De Kozan stated for the most part but he is in contempt of court with the web site. When she was pressed about West Florida Home Care Service being unlicensed to give “Hands on Care” and that they were hired by the Guardians from day one the Judge asked Ms. De Kozon to explain. She proceeded to make 5 false statements:

1.Gulf Coast had hired the best care (No, the care givers hired were unlicensed to give hands on care, and were therefore eventually fired because of this.)

2.Ms. Franks was only on vitamins when they were hired (No, she was on 4 prescriptions before Gulf Coast Guardians came on board)

3.When the Franks boys informed the Guardians that West Florida Home Care was not licensed for what they were doing the Guardians hired a “pharmacy group” to supply Ms. Franks with prescriptions.  However, there is no such thing as a “pharmacy group”, there are no invoices for a “pharmacy group” and even if there was it would not be permitted under AHCA regulations.

4.West Florida Home Care was asked to stay on but they refused due to the harassment of the Franks boys.  In actuality they were a house cleaning/companion service that was not licensed to give any hands on care according to AHCA and Ernestine’s long term insurance company.  They couldn’t stay because they were performing duties that were illegal for them to perform and put Ernestine’s health and life at risk. 

5.They stated that the Guardians tried a number of other agencies to care for Ms. Franks but “no one will touch this client”.  However, a call was made just a few days after this hearing to 6 health care services in Pensacola and they all said they would take the job. This information was submitted to the Judge to show Ms. De Kozan "Fraud Upon the Court" and why the boys had had all the orders against them. To keep litigation on going there must be a boogie man so the Franks boys have been made out to be just that. With close to $300,000 paid in attorney fees this has been a immoral but brilliant strategy by the law firm that has depended on the deceiving the court.

9/3/15 West Florida Home Care Service LLC is Fined $1,000.00 by AHCA for misconduct violations that were a result of the initial complaint made by friends of Ernestine Franks.

9/24/15 The Judge permitted all the charges. SYNOVUS then had the final option to ok them or question them. They chose to do business as usual and pay over the $66,000.00 billed to “protect Ms. Franks”

10/23/15 Gulf Coast Caring Solutions LLC summited their resignation to the court as Ernestine Franks Guardian. They also made a request to the court to change the Trust to allow a hand picked successor to be both new Trust manager and  Guardian. This action will reinforce the “0” transparency to an even higher level.

10/31/15 The Wall Street Journal publishes a featured article: Abuse Plagues System of Legal Guardians for Adults”.  One of the families whose story is covered is that of Ernestine Franks and her sons. 

11/1/15 William Bond one of the (2) lawyers for the Guardians files an objection to Mr Franks request to the court to see the supervisors report and care givers notes. It was the Judges idea that Mr. Franks petition the court to do so on the 9/24/15 hearing. The reports will show that the interaction between the Franks boys and their mother has been outstanding. This is not what the Guardians want to be know.

11/03/15 Court date has been set to hear who should be Ernestine's new Trust Manager and Guardian. Will it be her son who she had requested or another complete stranger who is in it “FOR PROFIT”?

11/16/15  Gulf Coast Caring Solutions and their attorneys McDonald Fleming Moorhead represented by Belinda B. de Kozan and William A. Bond requested to be relieved as guardians of Ernestine K. Franks. They requested that the court consider their recommendation as both Guardian and Trustee to succeed them. Douglas Franks the son of Ernestine was the other choice. Mr. Franks submitted a 250-page petition on why he should be Successor Guardian and why the recommendation of the past guardian should not be considered.

The Judge stated he would not read any of the petitions even after Mr. Franks pointed out that it was new evidence, which had never been seen by the court. The Judge also stated “How do I know because you are an heir to the estate you will not financially abuse your position?  Mr. Franks asked the court what could he do to prove that he would never abuse his position of guardian?  Mr. Franks also replied his actions have spoken loudly regarding his support of his mother at financial cost to himself. For instance he protected his mother by discovering and reporting an illegal care service hired by Gulf Coast Caring Solutions that had to quit because they were exposed.

Mr. Franks also said he would take care of his mother at no cost. 

The Judge stated that for now he would give J Alan Kohl full control of both Guardianship and Trustee of Ernestine K. Franks. This is in opposition of the current direction of the Florida Legislature, which is emphasizing that family members should be considered first as guardians.  The legislature is also looking closely at the financial danger to a ward under for-profit guardians.  Mr. Franks expressed his concern that there may be less oversight than ever with one person, recommended by the former guardians, in complete control. 

12/18/15 Gulf Coast Caring Solutions request more time to turn in final accounting and is granted the extension



1/16/16 Doug Franks  testifies at Senate Subcommittee on SB 232 along side Senate Nancy Detert. Bill approved 10 yea 0 nays

1/28/16 Doug Franks  testifies on HB 403 House Representative  Larry Ahern. Bill approved 12 yeas 0 nays


2/09/16 Doug Franks  testifies in front of Senate Subcommittee on SB 730 by Senator Gwen Margolis. Bill approved 10 yeas 0 nays

2/10/16 Doug Franks  testifies in front of Senate Subcommittee on HB 403 along side House Representative  Larry Ahern. Bill approved 10 yeas 0 nays

2/10/16 Doug Franks  is recognized on the Florida Senate floor with a standing ovation after Senate Derter induces him as a person that has spoken out on the abuses of For-Profit Guardian. The Florida Senate not only passes bill 40 yeas to 0 nays but all 40 Senators cosponsored the bill.




It appears that all entities involved with Ms. Franks’ for-profit guardianship have failed to act for her ultimate financial good, let alone her personal good.  And the sons have been advised that it is her trust manager who has had the final say as to what monies have been spent for her care.  It was Synovus job to look after her, and not pay out money without the highest of standards used. The sons wonder why the trust, under Roger Brown’s watch paid lawyer bills with out knowing the hourly charge? And why Roger brown changed 180 degrees from what his client…Ernestine Franks… had documented in her trust, which he had full access to for years.

Ernestine’s family is looking at every option to address the fiduciary misconduct by  Synovus Bank and Trust

More information will be posted as developments take place.

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

Still living in her own home Ernestine’s daily living expenses have increased $630.00 per day under Guardianship. She now pays over $1,000.00 PER-DAY PLUS. Her total spent to-date under Guardianship is now over $1,000,000.00

Ernestine's Guardians were Terry Bell Bush and Donna Potts they have now Gone Out of Business

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 court has initiated a guardianship, 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 court defines the guardian’s authority 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.”

10/14/16 Hearing Judges Scott Duncan  rules that Charles and Douglas Franks can now be co-guardians of their mom Ernestine K. Franks


11/03/16 Douglas Franks moves to Pensacola to live and take care of his mother.  Ernestine is now living free and happy!

12/16/16 After 45 days of freedom and a great day outing that ended with Chick-fil-A icedream Ernestine Franks had a heat massive attack. She passed in her sons arms hearing the last words from him “I love you and everything is going to be ok mom”


Ernestine Franks estate is liquidated by the new Trust Manager  Wesley Odom . Douglas Franks the Co-Trustee for Marshall Franks questions some of the actions taken by the Trust manager. Doug Franks points out that they are of not in the best interest of all the Franks sons. Doug Franks feels Wesley Odom as the  trust manager is in breach of his fiduciary duty. Doug Franks is told by Wesley Odom  in a ph conversation that “Your Mother was batshit crazy, the 7th amendment will never hold up in court, and I know now why Roger Brown never like you” All respect and trust was lost when he made that statement.


9/1/18 Gary B Leuchtman hired by Wesley Odom of Amanda Advisors both of Pensacola, FL to take trust to probate court. Mr. Leuchtman had close to a 20min ph conversation with Doug Franks on 1/1/16 about his mothers case that include home care, PensacolaLaw, and the Franks Family Trust are covered. PensacolaLaw later requested that Gary B Leuchtman review their attorney invoices for probate court to approval. Doug Franks pointed out his conflict to the court and to Leuchtman so he did his ethical duty under Florida Bar rules and withdrew.

11/1/18 Wesley Odom has Gary B Leuchtman Files with the Escambia Probate court to have Odoms Trustee PETITION TO APPROVE ACTIONS AND CONSTRUE TRUST  ie approved  his accounting, make Doug Franks sign an agreement that holds Wesley Odom Harmless, and then remove Doug Franks  as Co-Trustee of  is brother Marshall Franks.


1/31/19 A hearing will take place to see if there is jurisdiction in Probate or Federal court.

5/5/14 A petition was submitted by the sons’ attorney to the court to remove Gulf Coast Caring Solutions (GCCS) as guardian. The petition claims that GCCS had hired unlicensed caregivers to take care of Ernestine Franks, which put her safety at risk. In addition it appeared that GCCS inappropriately used money from Ms. Franks long-term health care policy with John Hancock, to pay for caretakers’ meals and groceries. This was reported by Doug Franks to John Hancock, holder of Ms. Franks’ long-term health care policy.


•  West Florida Home Care who had been hired by Gulf Coast Caring Solutions to provide Ernestine’s daily care for two years was discovered to be unlicensed to dispense medicine or do hands on care.  They were now cut off from receiving reimbursements from Ernestine’s insurer John Hancock, who had been notified of the illegal payments. It appears that West Florida Home Care was merely a companionship service, but went far beyond for what they were licensed: doing laundry, cooking, and house cleaning.

  1. 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 is given. 

     For 21 months Roger L. Brown, Ernestine's Synovus Bank Trust officer,

     who was responsible for execution of Ernestine’s trust with the fiduciary responsibility to protect her interests, had paid the salaries and expenses of these unlicensed caregivers with no questions asked. He apparently did no due diligence.  His excuse was that he was under court order to pay this, but that is doubtful and it appears to be a breach of fiduciary responsibility.

3/21/14 A letter from House Representative Mike Hill District 2 after he is shown the facts of Elder exploitation.

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Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs 2/11/14

Civil Justice Subcommittee HB 5 2/24/15

Video (Spanish): Analisis Bloque 5

Ernestines was charges over $400,000 in legal fees to keep the truth from being exposed including the videos from being seen!

Ernestine was Freed on 10/30/16 but was called to haven on 12/16/16