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Guardians Gone Bad?

April 6th, 2015 by Mike Vasilinda

Imagine yourself reaching the age of 93, you are still healthy and you have wealth, only to become a prisoner of the legal system in your own home. It is a scenario being played out in hundreds if not thousands of Florida homes.

The story of Ernestine Franks of Pensacola is compelling. At age 90, her sons couldn’t agree on where she should live…at home or with one of the brothers in New Orleans. A lawyer suggested a guardianship. Son Doug says that when the family nightmare began.

“My mom has the money. Did have the money. She pays nine hundred dollars, a hundred dollars an hour to see her children” says one of three siblings.

Private Guardians are for profit businesses. No one regulates them. Nancy Detert wants to change that.

“They’re in charge of your money, your assets, your health care, your family. So basically, they can take you prisoner and we don’t even have a complaint department” says the Republican Senator.

Last week Franks testified before his third legislative committee, telling lawmakers “What’s happened is this second group has been exploited financially and also isolated.”

After the testimony, the sons were denied an Easter visit to their now 93 year old mother. The email claims the sons conduct is brazen and harmful. We asked Detert what the Franks can do.

Q:”What does Mr. Franks do to see his mother without having to pay?”

A:”It’s impossible”

One of the problems is that no independent authority is checking what is true or not true.

Legislation on the move here at the Capitol would regulate all guardians…public and private. And it would set up a way for people to file complaints so people like Doug Franks don’t have to publish pamphlets about their case.

Franks and others who testified say the proposed law is a step in the right direction, but just a small step.

No professional private guardians testified against the legislative changes last week. The number of private guardians has gone from 23 in 2003 to 450 in 2015.

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