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Ballerina wins estate claim after caring for grandmother

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A Royal Academy of Dance graduate who sacrificed her ballerina career to care for her grandmother in 2008, has received £110,000 from her estate. Joan Flood, who died in 2016, had dementia and needed full-time support to remain in her own home.

Lynsey Delaforte, 36, was financially dependent on her grandmother and provided her with round-the-clock care at least six days a week. She received only modest state payments and £100 a month, and her lawyer argued that there was “a moral obligation on the deceased to provide for her.”

However, Mrs Flood died in 2016, she left nothing in her Will to Ms Delaforte, and her entire assets and home were inherited by her son Paul Flood and her daughter Annette Dargue, Ms Delaforte’s mother.

Encouraged by her mother, Ms Delaforte brought a claim for a share of the estate. This was opposed by her uncle, Paul, who claimed his niece’s care was a commercial arrangement after she took redundancy from a marketing position and had nowhere to go.

Later, under cross-examination, Mr Flood admitted there had not been a commercial arrangement and therefore Ms Delaforte was owed a share of the estate he and his sister inherited.

In a decision reached at Central London county court, Ms Delaforte was told she was entitled to £110,000 from her grandmother’s £650,000 estate, a figure which Judge Alan Johns said was: “not a reward for her plainly meritorious conduct in caring devotedly for her grandmother” and “simply represents reasonable financial provision for her maintenance.”

Ms Delaforte will receive £66,000 from her uncle’s share, and £44,000 from her mother’s, which she intends to use to set up a freelance dance teaching business.

Most claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 are brought by close family members such as spouses and children, or by cohabitees. However, as this case shows, anyone who was being maintained by the deceased, as Lynsey was, can bring a claim. The question then before the court, as the judge identified, is not whether their conduct is meritorious, but rather have they been left reasonable financial provision for their maintenance which is decided by looking at a number of factors set out in the Act.

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