Gemma McConkey has taken a second dead man’s estate to the High Court in an effort to get money out of it.
A housekeeper who failed to get money from the estate of a man she had a child with is now trying to get funds out of her dead lawyer’s estate.
But her latest legal action hinges on her being able to pay $15,000.
Gemma Lynette McConkey has been trying since 2017 to get a cut of the estate of Noel Clarke, a Manawatū farmer who left two farms and assets worth about $4 million when he died in 2014.
Clarke had three children with his wife before they separated, with McConkey moving in as his housekeeper in 1989.
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The relationship became intimate and the pair had a son in 1991.
She moved away from Clarke, but claimed they resumed the relationship before his death.
His will stated everything would go to his children.
But the law states the survivor of a marriage, civil union or de facto relationship ended by death should be no worse off than if the relationship ended in separation, as long as the survivor makes a claim within a year of the estate being administered.
McConkey’s claim was not made within that year, so her claims failed in the High Court and Court of Appeal in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
Furthermore, various people said she was not in a relationship with Clarke when he died.
She has now rounded on the estate of her former lawyer, Graham Takarangi, who died in March 2018.
According to a High Court judgment issued in July, McConkey claimed she was left worse off because of Takarangi’s alleged negligence.
She engaged Takarangi’s services in November 2016, but he became seriously ill soon after and did not file proceedings on McConkey’s behalf against Clarke’s estate until December 2017.
Takarangi’s estate is also taking action against McConkey, chasing her for about $13,500 in outstanding legal fees.
Lawyers for Takarangi’s estate argued McConkey never had any right to pursue Clarke’s estate, because she was never in a relationship with him when he died.
They also argued she was time-barred from Clarke’s estate due to the 12-month rule, so her claims were always destined to fail.
In his ruling on security of costs – when a party involved in a case pays money up front to show they can cover the other party’s legal fees if they lose – Associate Judge Kenneth Johnston said the relationship between Clarke and McConkey was a live issue.
It was not entirely possible to say she was time-barred from a claim on Clarke’s estate, Johnston said.
But he did add a caveat: “My overall view is that Ms McConkey’s claim is not strong.”
She also had a history of failing to pay costs, shown by her not yet paying the costs orders against her from the Clarke case.
She and the Takarangi estate must pay $15,000 each in security of costs if they wanted to pursue their claims.
Woman who failed to get money from dead man’s estate goes after her dead lawyer’s estate