NYC doorman says he has written proof that late resident left him chunk of estate



A Manhattan doorman claimed a building resident left him a chunk of his million-dollar estate — and now says he has the signed forms to prove it.

Jose Rafael Padilla filed suit in September saying late Midtown East resident James Clayton Larmett, 69, promised to leave him a third of his estate, given the doorman’s years caring for Larmett and his wife, Linda.

Lawyers for the estate fired back in court papers earlier this month that the suit should be tossed because even if there was an oral agreement, that wouldn’t be legally sufficient to change Larmett’s will — which designated all of his money to three animal charities. Larmett’s wife died in 2016.

So Padilla has now submitted two documents in the case that he says Larmett wrote before he died laying out that the resident wanted to leave a portion of his estate to his doorman.

The forms — questionnaires that Larmett answered for the prepaid service Legal Shield — say he wanted to split his assets evenly among Padilla and two animal charities.

Larmett filled out one form April 4, 2020, and the second Jan. 29, 2021. On the earlier form, he indicated that he wanted Padilla to get a quarter of his estate. In the more recent one, he said he wanted to doorman to get a heftier third.

The documents say Larmett had a home worth $1.8 million, $23,000 in bank accounts, at least one car and a life-insurance policy.

The 62-year-old porter of 14 Sutton Place explained in a previously filed affidavit why Larmett’s wishes were not put into an updated will.

The apartment entrance at 14 Sutton Place in Manhattan.
Jose Rafael Padilla was known for being a dedicated caregiver to James Clayton Larmett and his wife, Linda.
William Farrington

“Due to illness along with the advent of the COVID-19 restrictions, wills were not prepared and executed as per the will questionnaire submitted to Legal Shield,” Padilla’s affidavit said.

“The defendant had completed and signed both of these forms, and had asked Mr. Padilla to submit them on his behalf to Legal Shield … for preparation and execution of an updated will reflecting the promise,” Padilla’s lawyer, Stephen Weiss, wrote in court papers last week.

Weiss acknowledged that the forms don’t specifically “spell out the contract.

“But there is no ambiguity in their intent,” he said.

In his suit, Padilla said he had known the Larmetts — who had no children — since he helped them move into the building 28 years ago. He said he “became close” with the couple, even taking care of Larmett’s pets.

Padilla says the 69-year-old wife made Padilla promise before she died to take care of her husband, which he did, including tending to him daily and even sleeping in his apartment until a health aide was hired, his suit said.

Larmett estate lawyer Richard J. Miller told The Post on Tuesday that there is a high bar for making a valid will in New York — including needing independent witnesses present — which exist to protect the person signing the will.

“The documents that Mr. Padilla is submitting — which he alleges were completed by Mr. Larmett — do not meet any of these threshold requirements and as such leave numerous answers to be desired, including issues that may range from not only authenticity but to mental capacity or even undue influence,” Miller said.

Miller added that all this litigation only takes away from the money Larmett left to the animal charities.

“This claim that Mr. Padilla is making and the fact that we are in litigation does an incredible disservice to the charitable remainder beneficiaries,” Miller said. “All that Mr. Padilla’s claims are doing is increasing … time, expense and the lack of the assets in the hands of the beneficiaries.”


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