Honey Sherman had no will. Barry had two. Most of the slain billionaire’s estate is wrapped up in his private companies and, so, documents unsealed by a court Friday list assets of just $124 million.
That was what the judge who sealed the Sherman estate files in 2018 referred to in open court as “chump change” for wealthy people like the Shermans. Barry was the founder and owner of Apotex, a generic pharmaceutical giant. His wife Honey was, like Barry, a well known philanthropist.
The billionaire’s estate papers reveal their four children were left equal shares of a fortune that the financial press, at time of death estimated at roughly $4.7 billion, but that Star sources say is more in the neighbourhood of $10 billion. Apotex, and Barry’s many other private business pursuits, are not covered by the documents that were released.
But Barry had a caveat. The one quarter share a child was to inherit would only be paid out when the child reached 35.
It’s one of the intriguing details in a box of documents that has been sealed since shortly after the Shermans were murdered. Another is that one of the most generous couples in Canadian history (the Shermans gave hundreds of millions to charity in their lifetime) left no provision for money to go to charity.
The Star made a routine request to see the court file in June 2018 (court documents are typically public in Ontario) and learned it was sealed, touching off a three-year legal battle, which ended Friday with a ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada unsealing the documents.
“This is the last will and testament of me, Bernard C. Sherman, of the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario,” reads the opening line of Barry’s primary will. After the Supreme Court of Canada ordered the entire Sherman estate file unsealed, the Star found the documents late Friday in a courthouse sealed in multiple yellow packages in a plain, unmarked box. In fact, part of the sealing order mandated that nobody was to know what was in the box.
Barry and Honey Sherman were murdered in their North Toronto home sometime between 9 p.m. and midnight on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. The police have not said how they were able to pinpoint the time of death and the bodies were not discovered for almost two days. The death certificates, contained in the unmarked box, list Friday, Dec. 15 as the date of death.
Toronto homicide is investigating the case as a “targeted” double murder. A detective on the case has said that the estate of the Shermans is “embedded” in their investigation, but refused to explain what that means.
Documents unsealed Friday shed some, but not much, light on the arrangements Barry Sherman made.
His primary will — the original copy is in the box — is a simple document dated May 13, 2005. The will, and associated documents in the court file, state that his entire fortune is to be treated the same, both the relatively small amount of assets in the primary will, and the billions (no accounting is provided) in his secondary will.
Barry’s instructions, should he die before Honey, was for the “net annual income” of all of his holdings (including Apotex) to be paid to Honey in quarterly instalments “or such other periodic payments as my wife may direct.” Barry also left instructions in his will to provide other payments to Honey, but those are not specified except that they refer to Barry’s “capital” related to his various businesses.
Upon Honey’s death, Barry’s will states, his children are to split his fortune equally, only receiving their individual portion once they reach 35 years of age.
Barry and Honey left behind four children. When the Shermans died three and a half years ago, Lauren was 43, Jonathon 34, Alexandra 32, and Kaelen 27.
Barry’s will states that until the child reaches 35 years of age, the trustees of his estate have the “unfettered discretion” to make payments to the child for the “maintenance, education, advancement in life” of the child.
According to the estate records, dated June 2018, Honey died “intestate” — meaning she had no will.
The documents provide an accounting of each of their assets at time of death. The documents do not list specific assets, nor do they say how they arrived at this amount.
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Barry had $66.9 million personal property and $1.8 million in real estate. Honey had $45.9 million in personal property and $9.5 million in real estate.
When a person dies in Ontario, an estate administration tax must be paid to the provincial government, based on the amount in their primary estate (not including, in Barry’s case, for example, his ownership of Apotex.) Records released show in total the Sherman estate paid $1.8 million in estate tax.
When Barry made his will in 2005, he appointed eight trustees (sometimes called executors). Those eight were Jack Kay (his right hand man at Apotex); Mike Florence (his sister’s husband); Craig Baxter (a family holding company executive); Allen Shechtman (honey’s sister’s husband); and his four children.
In March of 2017, Barry added a codicil to his will, changing his trustees to just four: Jack Kay, Jonathon Sherman, Alex Glasenberg (a family holding company executive), and Brad Krawczyk, the husband of Barry and Honey’s daughter Alexandra.
The release of the documents shed light on a mystery the Star has been pursuing since it went to court in the summer of 2018 to unseal the court documents. At the time, an affidavit was provided by the Sherman lawyers, written by someone described only as “AB.”
During the Toronto Star’s court challenges (the Star lost in front of Justice Sean Dunphy of the Superior Court, won at the Ontario Court of Appeal, and, ultimately, won at the Supreme Court of Canada) the affidavit of AB was said to explain why the Shermans did not want the documents unsealed. The Sherman’s lawyers filed documents in court stating that there was a danger of “kidnapping and violence” to the Sherman heirs and trustees if the documents were unsealed. The Star was told in court by the Sherman lawyers that “sworn affidavit evidence” existed in the form of a 13 paragraph affidavit by “AB.” Nobody would reveal who AB was and the actual affidavit was sealed until this Friday.
AB was Brad Krawczyk, an estate trustee, and the husband of Alexandra, Barry and Honey’s daughter. Brad Krawczyk is an employee of Sherfam, the Sherman family holding company.
But the now unsealed 13 paragraph affidavit never mentions “kidnapping and violence.” The actual paragraph states:
“There is a real and substantial risk that the applicants (trustees of the estate), the children and their children will suffer serious harm, detriment or injustice from public exposure of the materials, particularly in the circumstances that the identity and motivation of the perpetrator (s) of the murders remain a mystery,” Krawczyk’s affidavit states.
It was partly on the basis of that affidavit that Justice Dunphy sealed the files.
The Star argued that, if the Sherman heirs believed there was a danger, they would have sought an affidavit from the Toronto police.
They did not, court heard.
Justice Dunphy, whose sealing order was overturned, is the judge who remarked in open court during the Star’s hearing in 2018 that the relatively small amount of the estate before him (millions, not billions) was “chump change.”
Krawczyk, who swore the affidavit in 2018, said in the affidavit that there was a particular urgency in moving the Sherman estate through the courts because just before Barry and Honey were murdered, “a bank account of (Barry Sherman’s) at the Bank of Montreal received an amount of approximately $100 million” arising from a special dividend payment.
Krawczyk told court that about $64 million was still in that account and the Sherman family trust was unable to access it until the court officially gave permission for Krawczyk and the other three trustees to act on behalf of the estate.
That permission was given in June 2018.
Kevin Donovan can be reached at 416-312-3503 or [email protected]
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