The international battle for a French rock star's millions

The international battle for a French rock star's millions

The international battle for a French rock star’s millions

by | Inheritance

Legendary French rock singer Johnny Hallyday died in December 2017.  He was living and domiciled in California at the time of his death.  Under US law, Johnny was free to leave his estimated EUR 100 million as he wished.  His beneficiaries were his American family – his fourth wife and their two adopted children.

Sounds simple, right?  A Frenchman had made America his permanent home, with no intention to return to France.

However, a French Court has frozen all of Hallyday’s assets in France.  Why?

French law dictates ‘forced heirship’.  These laws restrict an individuals ability to leave their legacy as they wish if they leave behind dependents or family.  Specific percentages of the estate must go to partners and children.

Two of Johnny’s adult children from a previous marriage are challenging the US will on the grounds that it contradicts French heirship law.  They want the estate divided between all 4 children and the widow as per French law.  This will not be a simple case to resolve.  The singer left France 2 decades ago.

Could Hallyday have avoided this post death dispute?  Possibly.  He could have written a will for his assets in France and other jurisdictions to ensure that no challenges could be made to his estate on jurisdiction grounds.  He could have shared his legacy intentions with his wider family – taken the sting out of the will.

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