Penniless ballet dancer, 36, who gave up her career to provide 24-hour care to dementia-stricken grandmother wins £110,000 share of her £650,000 estate in battle with ‘well off’ uncle
- Lynsey Delaforte, 36, of Twickenham cared for her grandmother for seven years
- The ballet dancer gave up her career to move into Joan Flood’s home in 2008
- Mrs Flood failed to update her 2006 will, leaving Mrs Delaforte without a penny
- She won a payout of £110,000 at Central London County Court, despite her wealthy uncle’s legal counterclaim
Lynsey Delaforte, 36, gave up seven-and-a-half crucial years of her dancing career when she moved in to make sure Joan Flood received the best possible care
A ballet dancer who gave up her promising career to provide 24-hour care to her dementia-stricken grandmother has won a share of her £650,000 estate, following a legal battle with her wealthy uncle.
Lynsey Delaforte, 36, gave up seven-and-a-half years of stage time when she moved in to make sure Joan Flood received the best possible care.
Mrs Flood died in 2016 but Miss Delaforte was left with nothing after Mrs Flood failed to update her will, which left her estate to her two children, Miss Delaforte’s mother and uncle.
Under the 2006 will, all of Mrs Flood’s cash and her Twickenham home were split between Paul Flood, and Annette Dargue.
At Central London County Court, her mother backed Miss Delaforte’s claim to a payout from the estate, but her 60-year-old uncle – who the court heard is the financially ‘comfortable’ member of the family – said she was due nothing.
Disputing her claim, Mr Flood’s lawyers insisted that, as his niece had been paid for the care she gave his mother, she was not a ‘dependent’ of the pensioner.
However, after a three-day hearing, Judge Alan Johns QC ruled the Royal Academy of Dance graduate should receive £110,000 from her beloved grandmother’s estate.
‘That is not a reward for her plainly meritorious conduct in caring devotedly for her grandmother,’ said the judge.
‘It simply represents reasonable financial provision for her maintenance.’
During the trial, Miss Delaforte’s lawyers claimed that, having moved in to be her gran’s carer, she had been financially dependant on the widow.
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She cooked and cleaned for the ‘challenging’ pensioner, dressed her, made sure she ate and looked after her in the most ‘loving and devoted’ way, a court heard.
‘This is a case where a grand-daughter provided 24-hour care to her grandmother at least six days a week in return for receiving modest state benefits and £100 per month,’ said her barrister, Sarah Harrison.
She added: ‘The devoted care provided by Miss Delaforte to the deceased placed a moral obligation on the deceased to provide for her.’
But Mr Flood claimed his niece only moved into the £550,000 house in Whitton, because she had taken redundancy from a ‘dull and energy-sapping’ marketing job and had nowhere to go.
In his defence to her claim to a share of her gran’s fortune, his barrister Simon Hunter argued that his niece caring for his mother had been a ‘commercial arrangement’.
Under the 2006 will, all of Mrs Flood’s cash and her Twickenham home were split between Paul Flood (pictured), and Annette Dargue
However, Mrs Harrison said what Miss Delaforte did for her grandmother went far beyond what a professional carer would have done.
‘It is quite obvious the care she was providing could only be explained by love and devotion to her grandmother,’ she told Judge Johns.
Giving evidence, Mrs Dargue, a teaching assistant and cleaner, said her daughter had stepped in to look after the frail pensioner when they were ‘desperate’.
‘This was an all-consuming job on a daily basis,’ she told the judge. ‘We had numerous problems, hospital admissions, hospital appointments.’
Giving evidence, Mr Flood, who is a workshop manager for an engineering firm, said that his niece had provided good care in difficult circumstances.
He said his mother was ‘one of the most challenging characters’ he had ever met and Lynsey ‘did a very good job’ looking after her.
It had not been a ‘commercial arrangement’, he eventually admitted under cross-examination.
His barrister, Mr Hunter, conceded that Mr Flood’s admission that Miss Delaforte had cared for her grandmother not for money but for love meant she was due a payout from the estate.
He told the court: ‘There was no written contract. He would have refused a contract, because Miss Delafonte was a trusted family member.
‘I accept that the will doesn’t provide for Miss Delaforte and, therefore, does not make reasonable financial provision.’
Judge Johns said Miss Delaforte will get £66,000 from her uncle’s share of the estate and £44,000 from her mother’s.
The court heard she intends to use the money to support herself while she establishes a freelance dance teaching business.
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