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Delaforte v Flood – Adult Claimant succeeds in claim against grandmother’s estate

19 February 2019

A former ballet dancer, Lynsey Delaforte, who gave up a promising career in order to care for her grandmother, who suffered from dementia, has secured an award in court of £110,000 in order to assist with her maintenance, and to help her set up a business as a dance teacher.

Ms Delaforte’s grandmother, Ms Flood, died in 2016 leaving a will gifting the residue of her estate equally between her son, Paul Flood, and her mother, Annette Dargue.

Ms Delaforte cared for Ms Flood, who was described as “challenging” around the clock from 2008 until her death in 2016. Whilst caring for her grandmother, Ms Delaforte received a modest carers allowance and attendance payments, as well as “top up payments”.

Following Ms Flood’s death, Ms Delaforte brought a claim against the estate under s.1(1)(e) of the Inheritance Act 1975 on the grounds that her grandmother’s will did not make reasonable financial provision for her on the basis that she was being maintained by her immediately prior to her death.

Ms Delaforte’s uncle, Paul Flood, defended the claim on the basis that Ms Delaforte was being remunerated for the care she provided for her grandmother, and that there was therefore a relationship of a commercial nature existing between Ms Delaforte and her grandmother for the purposes of s.1(3) of the Inheritance Act.

After a three day trial, Judge Alan Johns QC found in favour of Ms Delaforte and made an order that she receive £44,000 out of her mother’s share of the estate and £66,000 out of her uncle’s share of the estate, as well as the right to remain living in her grandmother’s property rent and bill free pending sale.

What this case demonstrates is that despite there being remuneration given to Ms Delaforte for the work done in caring for her grandmother, this alone may not necessarily constitute an “arrangement of a commercial nature” between her and her grandmother.

Furthermore, what this case demonstrates is that the Defendants’ conduct in defending the claim can be reflected in the burden to be borne by each Defendant in paying out the award made to the Claimant. Given that Ms Delaforte’s mother did not oppose her daughter’s claim, a larger percentage of the award to be paid to her daughter will be paid out of her uncle’s share of the estate.

What can also be learned from a case such as this is the significant risk and uncertainty that comes with pursuing claims under the Inheritance Act to trial.

At Barlow Robbins we have a specialist team of solicitors, lead by partner Scott Taylor, advising exclusively on contentious trust and estate disputes such as those in this case. If you would like to discuss any issue in relation to disputes over wills, trusts or estates, please do not hesitate to contact one of our team.

By Oliver Black

For further advice on Wills, Trust and Probate Disputes, please call us on 01483 543210 or alternatively email enquiries@barlowrobbins.com