From will, trust and estates disputes associate Heather Roberts.
The London County Court this week handed down judgment in a case brought by Lynsey Delafonte against the estate of her late grandmother Joan Flood. Lynsey had provided 24 hour a day care for over 7 years, after giving up a promising ballet career, for her grandmother who suffered from dementia. Mrs Flood had made a will in 2006 that left her estate, worth around £650,000, to her son Paul and daughter Annette, who was Lynsey’s mum. She left nothing to Lynsey, and despite her mother supporting her claim for provision from the estate, her uncle did not and disputed that she should be entitled to anything.
Lynsey appears to have brought a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, as a dependent of the deceased. It was argued that the deceased owed her a moral obligation to provide for her, but had been unable to change her will to reflect the care given, as she lacked sufficient mental capacity to do so. The judge agreed that the 2006 will failed to make reasonable financial provision, and ordered payment to her of £44,000 from her mother’s share of the estate, and £66,000 from her uncles share.
This is an unusual case as it is rare for grandchildren to bring claims under the Act, and Lynsey will have to have shown a level of dependency upon her grandmother, as well as a moral obligation and financial need, which she was clearly able to do. The flexibility and discretion that the court has with this types of claims makes it ideal for this type of situation, to allow a fair provision from a person’s estate.
The judge said: ‘That is not a reward for her plainly meritorious conduct in caring devotedly for her grandmother. ‘It simply represents reasonable financial provision for her maintenance.’