Seven of the eight children of Adelaide’s dry cleaning millionaire, Antoine Nemer, will face each other in court after a last-minute change apparently becomes ugly.
Nemer, who died at the age of 90 in 2016, left most of his estate to his wife Linda, who died a year later at age 91.
The couple left eight adult children: sons Paul, George, Leslie and Joseph Richard and daughters Sonia, Donia, Pauline and Marie.
The couple had already drafted a will in 2015, but in May 2017, just five months before her death, Ms. Nemer added a codicil, an addition or supplement to a will or part of a will that modifies or revokes it, which essentially meant that a significant portion of the inheritance would pass from three of his sons in favor of his daughters.
They are Joseph Richard lives abroad, is not a beneficiary of the will and is not involved in the case.
Until now, the exact value of the will is not known, although a recently published ruling by the Supreme Court of South Australia described it as “substantial” and “complex,” and is believed to involve a multimillion dollar fortune.
According to Mrs. Nemer’s will, 25 percent of the rest of her estate would go to George and 37.5 percent to Paul and Leslie.
But a “specific legacy” is made in favor of Sonia, Donia, Pauline and Marie, who can get a fair share of the money from their mother’s accounts after her death, an amount of about $ 972,000.
However, the effect of the codicil was to redirect the assets of the residual assets to the four daughters.
“The codicil produces a fundamentally important change in the distribution of the deceased’s estate given the probable magnitude of his interest in Antoine’s estate,” says the ruling.
The dispute also involves the couple’s mansion in Springfield, in the capital of southern Australia, as well as the interest of a company, the Hilltop Shopping Center Pty Ltd.
WHO WAS ANTOINE NEMER?
Antoine Nemer arrived in Australia from Lebanon in the 1940s and then opened the first Tip Top dry cleaners in 1953 in Gray St, Adelaide.
At that time, the business was innovative: according to the company’s website, Mr. Nemer “pioneered the same day service when most other dry cleaners had a seven-day change.”
It eventually became a highly successful franchise, and the Nemer family also developed interests in service stations.
The company’s website states that Mr. Nemer “worked until his death” and dedicated himself to his “family, friends, staff and his valuable clients.”
In an online tribute, Ms. Nemer referred to her late spouse as her “dear husband” and “my world,” while her children described him as a “wonderful father” and “an icon that loved us with all his forces”.
Meanwhile, Linda Nemer’s online tributes of her children refer to the matriarch as a “treasured mother” who was “truly perfect and beautiful.”
WHERE DID IT FAIL?
According to the wills and successions, the special lawyer Joanne Carusi, of Barry Nilsson Abogados, the children Paul, George and Leslie are fighting to ensure that their mother’s original will is respected, without the codicil, since they would appear to be the main beneficiaries of that document. .
While not commenting on the merits of the case, Caruso said Nemer’s four daughters seemed to want their mother’s codicil to be accepted as a valid addition to the will, as it benefited them.
It is believed that codicil favors his daughters over his sons through the disposition of properties.
She told news.com.au that codicils, which are normally used when minor changes are made to an existing will, could be dangerous in estate planning.
Ms. Carusi said that the use of codicils could be problematic, especially if they separated from the will, and could often cause confusion and become the subject of disputes between the beneficiaries.
It is much more efficient, professional and a “safer” option to simply prepare a new will if changes are necessary, which is much easier and faster to achieve with current technology, Ms. Carusi advised.
“The conflict could have been avoided or mitigated if the couple sought specialized advice on estate planning, which could have involved the development of a mutual will agreement,” Carusi said of the Nemer case.
“Mutual will agreements are a form of contract in which two testators agree that, after the death of one of them, the survivor will not alter the terms (or particular terms) of his will.
“Upon the death of one, the terms of the agreement are irrevocable. When mutual wills are made, the contract behind them must be reduced to a written contract or deed.
“It is a really important planning tool, and it is also important to review your estate plan regularly.”
The dispute of the Nemer family continues.
The clash of wills is not the first time the Nemer family appears in the headlines.
In 2001, Paul Habib Nemer, then 19, the son of George Nemer and one of Antoine’s grandchildren, shot local journalist Geoffrey Williams under the mistaken belief that he had been harassing young girls.
But the man was innocent, and while he survived, he lost his right eye in the shooting.
As part of a plea agreement, the teen pleaded guilty to the crime of endangering life and received a bail bond of $ 100 for three years.
The light sentence was so controversial that the State Government intervened and made the Director of the Prosecutor appeal.
In 2003, the Supreme Court again sentenced Mr. Nemer to four years and nine months in prison with a one-year and nine-month probation period.
According to the Adelaide Advertiser, after his release from prison, Mr. Nemer was caught breaking the speed limit at 45 km / h in 2007.
He was disqualified from driving for five months and 24 days, but left Australia to go to the Middle East without completing the disqualification period.