Search

Carer to Belsize Park widow wins High Court battle against TV heir hunter over £1.3million legacy

10:34 10 July 2014

Picture shows Tanya Vasileva, 39, outside London

Picture shows Tanya Vasileva, 39, outside London's High Court. She has won her battle against TV heir hunter Peter Birchwood over the £1.3m estate of holocaust survivor Gertrude Stanley. Picture: Sian Harrison

Copyright property of Sian Harrison.

The devoted carer of an elderly widow who fled the Nazis has triumphed over a TV-featured heir hunter in a High Court battle over the widow’s £1.3million legacy.

Picture shows Gertrude Stanley entertaining guests at the Britannia Hotel, Hampstead, with her piano playing.  Mrs Stanley's carer, Tanya Vasileva, won her High Court case against TV heir hunter, Peter Birchwood, over the Holocaust survivor's £1.3m fortune. Picture: Sian HarrisonPicture shows Gertrude Stanley entertaining guests at the Britannia Hotel, Hampstead, with her piano playing. Mrs Stanley's carer, Tanya Vasileva, won her High Court case against TV heir hunter, Peter Birchwood, over the Holocaust survivor's £1.3m fortune. Picture: Sian Harrison

Tanya Vasileva looked after her friend Gertrude Stanley – who had made her home in London after fleeing the Nazis on the eve of the Second World War – as the octogenarian’s health gradually deteriorated.

Mrs Stanley died, aged 89, believing she had no living relatives – her sister having been killed in a concentration camp – and promised her Hampstead flat to Miss Vasileva in return for the years of care her friend had selflessly provided.

But she made no will and a legal wrangle ensued after professional genealogist Peter Birchwood – who has appeared on the BBC series Heir Hunters – traced two distant cousins of Mrs Stanley.

During a hearing in London, the court heard Mrs Stanley had experienced the horror of fleeing from Vienna and arrived in London in May 1939, when she was 19.

She and her husband, Lawrence, lived together in their flat in Haverstock Hill, Belsize Park, for 48 years, until his death in 1994.

The couple never had any children and, knowing that her sister was dead, Mrs Stanley believed she had no blood relatives left.

The court heard that, despite her sizeable fortune – most of which was discovered in bank accounts and shares following her death – the widow lived a humble existence.

She was also a hoarder and she still had the suitcases her sister had packed for her thwarted escape bid – as well as her husband’s wartime army uniform.

Following her death in December 2009, Miss Vasileva – who had cared part-time for the widow since 2005 while also holding down two jobs – moved into her flat.

Acting on behalf of Mrs Stanley’s estate, Mr Birchwood argued Miss Vasileva was a “trespasser” who should be ousted from the property and made to pay £50,000 for her years of rent-free occupation.

But a judge ruled Mrs Stanley did promise the flat to her carer and said Miss Vasileva had “done her best” to look after the widow in her final years.

Speaking after the case Miss Vasileva said: “I looked after her but we weren’t just friends, we were more like grandmother and granddaughter, we were very close.

“She was an extremely intelligent woman and I have some lovely memories of our time together. She will always be in my heart.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Striking junior doctors outside the Royal Free Hospital during a national day of action 10.02.16.

Junior doctors protested on the picket lines of the Whittington and Royal Free hospitals today after staging a second walk-out.

16:43
A basement excavation next door to AIR studios could leave  the famous recording venue out of action

Camden planners have made a U-turn by ruling that an 11,700-strong petition against a basement development next to AIR studios will not be ignored.

16:30
Alex Lyons with her children Oscar, five, and Benjy, three.   Picture: Nigel Sutton

Haringey Council has U-turned on its plan to close a loophole allowing families to secure places for their children at some of the borough’s most popular primary schools even after moving miles away from catchment areas.

16:07
Roundway

Day centres for autistic, vulnerable, and disabled people cannot be saved by using money raised from a proposed two per cent council tax rise, Haringey Council’s cabinet has ruled.

Ergun Yasar will be sentenced next week

A man from Crouch End has admitted being part of a gang which cheated a casino in Paddington out of thousands of pounds by ‘card swapping’.

Striking junior doctors outside the Whittington Hospital during a national day of action 10.02.16.

Junior doctors have walked out of the Royal Free and Whittington hospitals for the second time in weeks over contract disputes.

Yesterday, 21:05
Haringey Council Civic Centre

Haringey Council has U-turned on its plan to close a loophole allowing families to secure places for their children at some of the borough’s most popular schools even after moving miles away from catchment areas.

Yesterday, 17:29
Tulip Siddiq with volunteers from Royal Free young volunteers programme

Inspirational young volunteers were praised in parliament for their ‘amazing’ contribution to the Royal Free NHS trust.

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Sony Smart Ultra HD 55'' LED TV

Enjoy the ultimate entertainment experience in your living room with the Sony Smart Ultra 55’’ LED TV. Be the envy of all your friends with this huge TV- you can change your living room into your own cinema! Get the boys around to watch the football or get the girls around to watch the DVD of 50 Shades.. this is a prize that everyone would enjoy! Stand a chance to upgrade your current entertainment system by wining this fantastic prize.

Surface Pro 4

Technology is ever evolving. We are constantly being shown new technology that is innovative, revolutionary and designed to make life easier for us all. Gone are the days of dial up modems and computers so large you needed half a room to store it. We are in the age of smooth, small and sleek. Companies are all trying their best to create technology that is easy to transport and guaranteed to be user friendly.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe