Honey Sherman said she had a will and had made changes to it three weeks before she and husband Barry Sherman were murdered, a confidant of Honey’s told Toronto police detectives in the early days of the investigation.
It’s an important piece of information from the now two-year-old case because of the persistent mystery over whether or not Honey had a will. According to friends and family members, no will belonging to Honey was found following the murders. The billionaire couple were found dead in their Toronto home on Friday, Dec. 15, 2017.
A close confidant of Honey’s recently told the Star that in mid- to late November 2017, Honey mentioned she had just “updated” her will.
Information relating to the Sherman estate is sealed pending an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada by the family’s estate trustees, who want the estate files kept secret, citing claims of privacy and physical risk of harm to those named in the court files, including the beneficiaries of the estate and the trustees.
To add to the mystery of the case, Toronto police recently said during a court proceeding that the estate of Barry and Honey Sherman is “embedded” throughout their investigation, but will not explain why.
A spokesperson for the Toronto homicide squad said Wednesday she could not comment because the case is an “active, ongoing investigation.”
During the Toronto Star’s investigation, family and friends of the Sherman couple have said while Barry had a will (dating back to 2013 and updated in early 2017), they did not know if Honey had a will.
According to comments made by Honey before she died, she did have a will.
Roughly a week after the Nov. 13, 2017, birth of the Sherman couple’s third grandchild, Honey told one of her confidants she had just that day “updated” her will at a lawyer’s office.
“Honey and I were talking and she said meet me at Yonge and St. Clair Avenue. She said she was just coming from her lawyer’s office and she had just updated her will. She had done some amendments,” the confidant told the Star. “Honey said she wanted me to first go with her to Loblaws to get those frozen croissants from Ace Bakery that she liked, then we would go to her home.”
The Star has agreed not to identify the person — we will refer to the person as one of Honey’s service providers — due to the individual’s concern for safety. The person provided a regular service to Honey in her home for several years and the two had regular conversations during these times.
The service provider gave this information to the Toronto homicide squad shortly after the murders.
The conversation regarding Honey’s will that day came about because Honey had volunteered to pick up the service provider for the drive to the Sherman’s Old Colony Road home in North York, to save having to take public transit.
The exact date of the conversation is not known by the Star, but the service provider said it happened soon after the Nov. 13 birth of the Shermans’ third grandchild. “Honey was so excited about the baby,” the service provider told the Star.
Over the time the service provider worked for Honey, Honey often stressed the importance of having a will and “making sure everything is protected,” said the service provider.
The identity of the law firm Honey said she attended was not mentioned during this conversation. The Shermans used the law firm Davies Ward Phillips and Vineberg LLP for estate matters. That is the firm representing the Sherman children in the bid to keep sealed the estate files (previously ordered unsealed by the Ontario Court of Appeal following a successful appeal by a Toronto Star reporter).
Nor did Honey mention to the service provider what changes she was making or had made. The Star has spoken to some of Honey’s close friends in light of this new information and they say it is possible Honey was simply adding the new grandchild as a beneficiary. Or, they speculate, it was a more significant amendment. The Star has previously reported that around this time, both Barry and Honey were discussing Barry giving Honey a significant amount of money — as much as $ 500 million — and that in the wake of the murders, Honey’s sister Mary Shechtman told the Shermans’ children that some of that money was earmarked for her. Honey and Mary were best friends and Mary assisted Honey with some of her real estate projects. The Star also reported that Barry was considering leaving the bulk of his estimated $ 4.7-billion estate to charity.
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Barry’s will at the time of death, according to three people who have a copy or have seen the will, leaves his estate to the couple’s four children, with a provision for Honey to be looked after by a “living trust.” Although Barry frequently made multimillion-dollar donations to various charities, these three sources say there is no provision in his will for a charitable donation.
When news of the death of Honey and Barry Sherman became public on Dec. 15, 2017, the service provider immediately reached out to police. But police did not respond for six weeks, according to the service provider. On Jan. 26, 2018, the same day the police announced they had determined it was a “targeted double homicide” they were investigating, a homicide detective constable interviewed the service provider for two hours.
The detective asked questions, including whether Honey had any marks on her body when the service provider last saw her (the service provider said no). The service provider volunteered to the detective that Honey had, according to Honey, updated her will recently.
The service provider also told the detective about an odd occurrence at the Sherman home on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 — just a few days before the murders (though the Sherman bodies were discovered on Dec. 15, they were likely killed on Dec. 13). Their house was on the market, listed at $ 6.9 million. While the service provider was with Honey, a Sherman realtor came in and explained that a person was interested in seeing the home using FaceTime. The realtor walked through the house, even pointing the phone at Honey and the service provider. Honey waved, the service provider recalled.
What struck the service provider as particularly odd is that the person viewing the images could not be seen on the FaceTime screen and the person was asking questions by sending text messages — not speaking.
The service provider told the homicide detective all of this information. At the end of the interview, the detective asked, “Who do you think did it?”
“That’s your job,” the service provider told the detective.
The answers to many questions about the estates of both Barry and Honey Sherman — including whether Honey had a will and, if so, which lawyer was she dealing with — lie in court files currently under seal. Davies lawyer Timothy Youdan, in a July 2018 court hearing in which the Star was seeking access to the estate documents, told Justice Sean Dunphy:
“We don’t know who the beneficiaries are, if there is a will,” Sherman estate lawyer Timothy Youdan told the court hearing. “We don’t know if there is no will.” To proceed with the administration of the couple’s estate after the deaths, Youdan filed a document asking for the “appointment of estate trustee without a will in the estate of Honey Sherman.” He also filed an affidavit from a person described as “AB” stating that should the identity of the trustees and beneficiaries get out, they could be in danger of “violence and kidnapping.” Even though Barry apparently did have a will, Youdan filed a document in court requesting the “appointment of estate trustee without a will in the estate of Barry Sherman.” Why this was done is part of the sealing order the Star is challenging.
Justice Dunphy ruled in the Sherman family’s favour in 2018, sealing the estate documents until the summer of 2020. The Star and its reporter appealed, won at the Ontario Court of Appeal, but the order releasing the files was stayed pending the Sherman estate trustees’ appeal to Canada’s highest court.
The Shermans’ Supreme Court of Canada appeal, in which they will seek to maintain a seal on the Sherman estate, will be heard in Ottawa in March 2020.