Carer wins right to inherit on grounds of a ‘promise’ made to her

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The carer of a holocaust survivor has won the right to an inheritance on the basis that the deceased had previously promised to leave her flat to her after her death. The carer, Tanya Vasileva had cared for her friend Gertrude Stanley on a part-time basis from 2005 until 2009. Mrs Stanley, who died aged 89, had survived her husband and sister and had believed that she had no other living relatives. Miss Vasileva claimed that Mrs Stanley had promised that she would leave her London flat to Miss Vasileva if she would care for her.

In reliance on the promise, Miss Vasileva eventually moved into Mrs Stanley’s London flat and provided significant personal care and domestic help to the widow. Mrs Stanleyeventually moved into a care home in April 2009 and died in December of the same year, leaving no will.  

Following Mrs Stanley’s death,  Miss Vasileva continued to live in the flat. However, her claim to the property was disputed when professional geneologist, Peter Birchwood, traced two distant cousins of Mrs Stanley. Mr Birchwood claimed that Miss Vasileva was a trespasser by living in the property and that she should be evicted and made to pay £50,000 for her years of rent- free occupation.

The Judge, Mark Raeside QC, ruled that Mrs Stanley had promised the flat to the carer and said that Miss Vasileva had ‘done her best’ to look after the widow. The judge dismissed Mr Birchwood’s financial claim against her and ruled that Miss Vasileva was entitled to £70,000.  In making the ruling, however, the Judge sought only to recompense the carer to the extent that that she had provided care to the widow. The judge ruled that the £160,000 property was disproportionate to the part-time care which she had provided. The effect of the ruling was that Miss Vasileva was awarded £20,000 to paid from the estate as the judge ruled that the time the carer had spent living rent free in the property already was worth £50,000. The judge gave Miss Vasileva six months to leave the flat. 

This recent ruling reaffirmed the principle that, in certain circumstances, a person could be entitled to inherit from an estate on the basis of a promise made by the deceased.

The case is yet another reminder of why it is so important to make in Will in the first place, and the consequences of not doing so. If you would like to make a Will,  then contact a member of our private client department – speak to Sara Jane on 01282 433241 (Burnley office) or Jean on 01282 864500 (Colne office). You will be surprised by how affordable our rates are.  

If you think that you might have grounds to contest a Will, then speak to our contentious probate specialist Alison Rowley. Alison can be contacted on 01282 433241.