The wife of a merchant bank boss is locked in a court fight with his two daughters over his £7million fortune.
Stepmother Pamela Shearer says Juliet Miles and Lauretta Shearer are owed nothing and are only interested Tony for his money after they were cut out of his will.
Juliet, 40, and Lauretta, 38, say they are due ‘maintenance’ from their father’s estate to replace a ‘generous financial provision’ they had.
But Pamela says they are due nothing and sees them as ‘entitled’ and ‘interested in their dad only for his money’, the High Court was told.
Financier Mr Shearer, the former head of merchant bank Singer and Friedlander and finance governor of Rugby School, died at 68 in October 2017 from a brain tumour.
He had been married to marketing executive Pamela for ten years at the time of his death, having split from his daughters’ mother Jenny after 34 years together in 2005.
Following his death, almost all of his fortune – which Juliet and Lauretta put at around £7million – was left in the hands of their stepmother, with nothing for the daughters.
They are now suing her for ‘reasonable provision’ from the estate, backed by their mother Jenny.
Tony Shearer’s daughters Juliet Miles (left), 40, and Lauretta Shearer (right), 38, say they are due ‘maintenance’ from his estate to replace a ‘generous financial provision’ they had
They claim their father ‘changed’ when he married Pamela and unfairly left them high and dry after he had looked after them financially the whole of their lives.
But Pamela, 68, is defending the claim, blasting her stepdaughters as having ‘chosen to live beyond their means’.
She claims the pair have ‘lifestyle expectations and assumptions… way beyond’ what Mr Shearer would have agreed to support and insists their father wanted them to stand on their own two feet.
London’s High Court heard Mr Shearer made his fortune after moving into banking, having trained initially as an accountant, and worked for Deloitte.
He became a partner in the firm in 1980 and took on finance director and deputy chief executive roles in investment management.
Stepmother Pamela Shearer (pictured) says they are due nothing and sees them as ‘entitled’ and ‘interested in their dad only for his money,’ the High Court was told
In 2003, Tony became finance director of Singer and Friedlander, a merchant bank in the City of London, and in 2005 became its chief executive.
He met second wife Pamela at work and they married in March 2007, later moving together to France, where he died in 2017.
His will, dated February 2015, left an estate worth £2,184,976 to Pamela, but Jordan Holland, for the daughters, told the judge she had been left with much more.
Taking into account non-estate property and a valuable collection of possessions, including expensive wine and family heirlooms, she has been left with almost £7million worth, he claimed.
Both the daughters are recently divorced with children and Mr Holland told the Chancellor of the High Court, Sir Julian Flaux, that Juliet, who is not working, is in a ‘desperate’ financial situation and wants a lump sum of £915,991 from her dad’s estate to buy a house.
Lauretta, who works for auction house Sotheby’s, wants £350,154 to secure her own housing.
The barrister said both daughters were still reliant on their father for money despite being grown women and were entitled to expect to be considered in his will.
He said: ‘The standard of living and expectations which Juliet and Lauretta enjoyed throughout and beyond childhood are relevant to the assessment of their claims.
‘That standard is a high one as it must be judged with reference to the deceased’s background and financial circumstances.
‘The deceased continued to provide a high standard of living for Juliet and Lauretta into their adulthood and after they left university.
Financier Mr Shearer (pictured), the former head of merchant bank Singer and Friedlander and finance governor of Rugby School, died at 68 in October 2017 from a brain tumour
‘This included regular luxury holidays with him and Jennifer, or him alone, to spend quality time together, membership of the Hurlingham Club, housing at the family home into their 20s and thereafter the discharge of rent on their flats, together with a regular maintenance allowance and other ad hoc sums.
‘They are each mature women who are, and have been for some time, trying to make their way independently in life.
‘Nonetheless, the deceased always encouraged them to rely on him for guidance and support including, but by no means limited to, financial support – and they did so. This encouragement lasted well into their adulthood,’ he added.
Mr Holland said Mr Shearer’s previously close relationship with his daughters ‘changed’ after he married Pamela, adding ‘Juliet and Lauretta struggled with the change in their father and could only conclude that Pamela was to blame for this change’.
‘Pamela takes a very dim view of Juliet and Lauretta, who she believes to be wasteful, extravagant, entitled, wayward and interested in the deceased only for his money.
‘This is in stark contrast to the evidence which Juliet, Lauretta and Jennifer give,’ he said.
‘On any footing, the deceased’s net estate is substantial and exceeds £2.5million, disregarding the value of the substantial assets worth many millions of pounds which pass to Pamela outside of the estate.
‘Pamela does not suggest in her evidence that she requires the deceased’s estate for her own needs.
‘There can be no suggestion, therefore, that the estate is not sufficiently large to make the provision sought,’ he concluded.
But Barbara Rich, for Pamela, said Mr Shearer made it clear in letters and emails he disapproved of his daughters’ lifestyle and ‘demands for money’ and wanted them to be financially independent before he died.
Mr Shearer was the former finance governor of Rugby School in Warwickshire (pictured, file photo)
She read an extract from a letter he wrote after giving each daughter £185,000 to put towards a property, stating: ‘Once I started working aged 19, I never expected any money from my father or mother… I think that you have already received almost everything that you can expect.
‘From now on, you are on your own financially. I would not approve of it any other way.
‘You can expect the odd present – probably a lot smaller than you might think appropriate – and my love, company, advice, support etc.’
Mrs Rich said Mr Shearer was ‘disappointed’ when they both failed to successfully complete their degree courses, describing it as ‘a tragedy’.
She also read an extract to the court from a letter from Mr Shearer, describing his daughters’ schooldays: ‘We had alcohol, clubbing, boyfriends, mostly ghastly ones, and lies, lies, lies’.
But Lauretta told the judge in reply: ‘We were teenagers. I don’t think we were more naughty than everybody else.’
In a later 2012 letter when she turned 30, Mr Shearer told Loretta: ‘I thought that when you left your teenage years things would improve but I was wrong.’
He also wrote: ‘Perhaps I wasn’t the perfect father, but I as sure as hell worked as hard as I could to keep the whole family circus on the road.
‘As you will discover, it takes a lot of money to support the kind of lifestyle we enjoyed as a family.
‘And the sort of lifestyle you and Juliet enjoyed went way beyond what you appear to think was my ”responsibility” as a parent.’
The barrister told the judge Pamela in her witness statement provides a ‘description of Tony’s concern that his daughters had developed a misplaced sense of entitlement or expectation of financial support from him.’
‘This claim… is based on lifestyle expectations and assumptions which are ‘way beyond’ not only any responsibility which Tony had towards his daughters when he was legally obliged to maintain them during their childhood, but which he would ever have assumed towards them as adults,’ she said.
‘It can’t be right for a claimant who has chosen to live beyond their means to say ‘I need to be maintained beyond my means’ – because that is their lifestyle choice.
‘The claimants talk about expecting that their father would give them financial support on the basis of past childhood generosity that continued until their twenties.
‘The case is put on a basis of expectation rather than actuality. There is no evidence that he was funding the lifestyle of either of them at he time of his death,’ the barrister concluded.
Lauretta, in evidence, said of her father’s letters: ‘He started sending these letters and emails about demands for money, which just didn’t happen.
‘It wasn’t like him to do this or say this. I think Pam was involved in some of my father’s communications.’
The hearing continues.