Lockout misery for war orphan
An orphaned survivor of World War II has been told to leave her Christchurch home despite a dying wish from her husband.
Vera Mironova, 78, a survivor of the Siege of Leningrad, claims she was locked out of her Kea St house in Riccarton last Friday. She told The Press she was left with only the dress she was wearing.
Even though her husband, now-deceased Christchurch man Warren Joseph Anderson, asked in his will that Mironova be allowed to remain, she had no legal right to because she is not a beneficiary of the trust that owns the house.
The Kea St property is owned by the Ironstone Family Trust, headed by Warren Anderson's son Stephen Anderson.
Warren Anderson's will says, "without creating any binding obligations on my trustees I direct [them] to take into account my memorandum of wishes in relation to the said Ironstone Family Trust to allow my partner . . . to have the use and occupation of my home until the cessation date on the terms and conditions outlined."
He asks the trustees to "permit my partner [Mironova] to have the free use and enjoyment of my chattels until the date of her death".
Mironova claims that after he died, her stepson told her there was no money in the trust and that he would be selling his father's house.
Anderson's lawyers told her she must leave the house by 5pm on January 13.
Last Friday, Mironova said she arrived home to find a new lock on the front door. She spent hours in the garden waiting for her stepson before walking to a friend's home.
On Monday, Anderson dropped off some of Mironova's clothing along with both her Russian and New Zealand passports to the Christchurch police. But she says she is still waiting on the rest of her possessions.
In a letter obtained by The Press, Anderson's lawyers, Saunders Robinson Brown, state that Mironova "is not and never has been" a beneficiary of the Ironstone Family Trust, which owns the Kea St property.
"If your client fails to move out by this date [January 13] the trustees will take the appropriate action to secure the property," the letter read.
Mironova has accepted she must leave Kea St and has since entered into a tenancy agreement on a Christchurch City Council social housing unit.
She will move into her unit this week but wants her "precious belongings back".
"I have paintings . . . letters from my first husband when he was in the Navy, photographs, important documents, jewellery and presents from Warren. These are my memories . . . these are my life."
She also said she needs prescriptions for her medications.
Mironova said she nursed her husband when he was ill, lived with him for seven years and "cannot believe how his son is treating me".
"I loved his father and he loved me . . . and now I have nothing again."
Her parents died in the war and her 4-year-old brother was suspected to have been a victim of cannibalism, she told The Press.
After starting out with "absolutely nothing", she now fears her life may end the same way.
Stephen Francis Anderson is an accountant for Anderson & Associates in Rangiora and is also a director of Edgeware Services Ltd, the company that owns and operates the SuperValue supermarket in Edgeware.
In a statement to The Press, he said the trustees would have been happy to allow Mironova to remain in the house "in accordance with my father's wishes" but said she was not a beneficiary of the trust and legal advice was that "we could not simply allow her to stay there".
"After a significant period of time and two different deadlines had passed, the trustees had no choice but to take the action that they did to protect the interests of the beneficiaries.
"This was not what we would have wished but we felt we had no choice."
Anderson said Mironova had also claimed a number of items from the house, including one "Anderson family heirloom", a tartan blanket, that she was not legally entitled to.
Mironova claims her husband told her to give the blanket to her daughter when she visited her in Sweden.
"We all want to resolve these issues so everyone can move on . . . I am really sad that we have got into this situation, it is not what I would have wished to happen," Anderson said.