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'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

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

Devotees of the late pop star are asking the City of London for a commemorative bench in George Michael’s “favourite park” for his fans to pay tribute to him

A man was beaten to death with a shopping trolley handle during a row, between two groups of youths in Willesden, a court heard.

Theodore Johnson, 63, appeared at the Old Bailey this morning charged with murdering the 51-year-old last month.

Cllr Claire-Louise Leyland will join traders and members of the Camden Neighbourhood Policing team this Wednesday in the Belsize Kitchen.

16:30

An influential publisher and Samuel Pepys enthusiast who lived in Hampstead Garden Suburb for 50 years has died.

14:11

Homeless people in Camden are to be offered extra support as temperatures drop below zero.

11:41

A pair of schools have had their newly-opened buildings blessed by bishops.

Yesterday, 19:08

West Hampstead mum Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe has lost her appeal and had her five year sentence in an Iranian jail upheld by an Iranian court.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate 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

Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now