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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Daughters of Toronto philanthropist and Holocaust survivor fighting over $13 million difference in their inheritance

When Chaim Neuberger died, his fortune was well over $100 million dollars. He was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust, then came to Canada to make a fortune in real estate. He was also a well-known philanthropist in Toronto.  His wife had predeceased him, so he left his estate equally to his two daughters when he died in 2012. Click here to read more about this story in the National Post.

Four years later, they are still fighting. At issue is $13 million, about 10% of the estate. The usual allegations of dementia are being lobbed about, despite Mr. Neuberger taking several planning steps during his lifetime to create an equal division.

Apparently his family did not inherit his values, as they are fighting about one supposedly getting more than the other. Given that each of them has inherited more than she can spend during her lifetime, you would think that family harmony might be more important. The matter has been through several courtrooms already, and even one of the daughter's kids has hired his own lawyer to get involved.

Over the last couple of years, I've seen a few stories in the news about super-rich people who have stated publicly that their children will not be inherited huge amounts of money from them. I see this on a smaller scale in my own practice. Parents who are well off worry that if their children know that they are going to be set for life without ever lifting a finger, they will become entitled and greedy. They worry that their kids' values will be warped. I think Mr. Neuberger's case has proved them right.

In 2008, Mr. Neuberger donated $10 million to the United Jewish Appeal in Toronto to create the Chaim and Sarah Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre. Too bad he didn't donate his entire fortune, where at least it would have been appreciated rather than used up in legal fees.

To read the case itself (or at least the most recent decision), click here.

The attached photo of Chaim Neuberger accompanied the National Post article and is credited to Peter Redman/National Post.

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