Ballet dancer succeeds in inheritance claim against her grandmother's estate

In a recent inheritance dispute, the Court ruled in favour of a ballet dancer who gave up her dancing career to care for her sick grandmother who had dementia.

Lynsey Delaforte, who was a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dance, left her job and provided round the clock care for Joan Flood for a period of 7 years up until Mrs Flood’s death in 2016.

Mrs Flood’s will which was prepared in 2006, left all of her £650,000 estate (which included her £550,000 house in Twickenham) to her son Paul Flood (Miss Delaforte’s uncle) and Annette Dargue (Miss Delaforte’s mother). Miss Delaforte had no assets of her own and no income. She had her own debts to pay and she was forced to make a claim against the estate.

Miss Delaforte made a claim for reasonable financial provision from her grandmother’s estate on the basis that she had been financially dependent upon the Deceased since she had moved in as her full time carer.

Mrs Dargue supported her daughter’s claim to receive an award from the Estate and gave evidence about the care being provided saying 'this was an all-consuming job on a daily basis”

Paul Flood, who was comfortably well off, contested the claim. Mr Flood alleged that the arrangement between Miss Delaforte and her grandmother was simply a commercial agreement and consequently that she was not financially dependent upon the Deceased.  

The evidence showed that Miss Delaforte had provided devoted care for her grandmother for 24 hours a day, 6 days a week over the 7 year period. It was also revealed that she only received modest payments in the form of carers allowance and attendance allowance and £100 per month by way of a top up.  Under cross examination, Paul Flood admitted that there had not been a formal agreement in respect of care and he agreed that Miss Delaforte “did a very good job” caring for her grandmother.

Judge Johns agreed that Miss Delaforte was entitled to receive financial provision from the estate and awarded her the sum of £110,000. Miss Delaforte told the court that she would use the money to live on whilst she set up her own dance school and to cover the costs of moving, for new furniture and a new car.

The court also allowed her to stay in her grandmother’s property rent free until the property was sold.

Our contentious probate solicitors said “The late Mrs Flood made her latest will in 2006, many years before Miss Delaforte moved in as her carer. If Mrs Flood had reviewed her will, this inheritance dispute may well have never took place. In order to avoid will disputes and inheritance disputes, testators should review their wills regularly especially if their circumstances have changed”.

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