The woman at the head of a dry cleaning empire was tricked into believing she was so poor she couldn’t afford to run a washing machine, it’s been claimed.
The woman at the head of a dry cleaning empire was tricked into believing she was so poor she couldn’t afford to run a washing machine, it’s been claimed.

Laundry matriarch ‘delusional’ over will

Three brothers from a wealthy South Australian family claim their mother was "delusional" when she amended her will,   redirecting the bulk of her vast fortune to her four daughters, court documents reveal.

The bitter family feud is being played out in court and centres on the will of Antoine and Linda Nemer, who made millions from their Tip Top dry cleaning empire they founded in 1953.

 Up for grabs is the distribution of millions of dollars in real estate, shares, a $1500 racehorse and cash. In court documents, accessed by The Advertiser, brothers George, Paul and Leslie Nemer argue their mother was not capable of understanding a crucial amendment to her will which redirected millions of dollars of assets away from them and to their sisters Sonia, Donia, Pauline and Marie.

They further allege their 90-year-old mother did not comprehend the extent of her wealth and what had already been given to her daughters when Mr Nemer died - and when she amended her will in 2017.

Linda Nemer added a codicil to the will five months before she died in 2017. Picture: Supplied
Linda Nemer added a codicil to the will five months before she died in 2017. Picture: Supplied

Documents lodged as part of the civil case in the Supreme Court estimate Mrs Nemer's direct assets as worth almost $9 million with the sale of a shopping complex, on Main South Rd, injecting more money into the estate.

However, Justice Tim Stanley in a judgment published in December said there were "difficulties and uncertainties" in fully assessing the extent of the Nemers' assets both here and in Lebanon.

The documents also reveal George received a lesser share of the family business in part because of "significant monies" paid by the family to his son Paul Habib Nemer's court case.

Paul Habib Nemer dragged the family into a scandal in the early 2000s when he shot a newsagent in the eye and his initial sentence of a good behaviour bond sparked widespread outrage.

The three brothers say their mother was suffering from "delusional beliefs at the time of giving instructions for and making" the codicil in May, 2017.

The statement of defence from them also claims that Mrs Nemer became quiet and withdrawn following the death of her husband in January 2016, and became reluctant to talk to her sons.

The court documents claim Mrs Nemer, had a limited grasp of English, never held a driver's licence and always did her banking with a family member.

The brothers also allege that Mrs Nemer was "accustomed to acting at the prompting of her daughters and had an "unshakeable" belief that she did not have any money

And, they further claim their mother, who died in October 2017, had no involvement in the family's "legal, business or financial matters" with Mr Nemer the patriarch of both the family and Tip Top.

According the documents, Mrs Nemer misunderstood one of her daughters and believed she couldn't run the washing machine because it would cost more money than she had.

The brother's argue the amendment to the will is invalid while their sister's maintain that the change was what their mother intended.

The 2015 will left varying cash gifts to all four of the couple's daughters and three of their sons.

A fourth son, Joseph, who lives in Lebanon, was not bequeathed any assets in the will as he already received his "inheritance" during Mr Nemer's lifetime.

The company was divided between the three brothers, with Paul and Leslie receiving the majority shares.

A family settlement deed made in 2014 is also at the centre of the argument.

The agreement between Joseph and his Australia-based family members resulted in almost 20 plots of land in Lebanon, as well as business interests, being transferred to Mr Nemer.