French rock star Johnny Hallyday left his family a will when he died of lung cancer at age 74 last December. However, his fourth wife and two adult children have been locked in a legal battle over inheritance of property and artistic rights due to legal complications.
The case involves a conflict between U.S. and French laws. Hallyday wrote his will in California as he lived in Los Angeles with his wife. In France, however, children receive automatic inheritance rights. The courts must now decide which laws apply and whether Hallyday was a resident of France or the United States.
In his will, Hallyday left all his assets to his fourth wife and their two school-aged daughters. The inheritance dispute was a result of his two oldest children, who reside in France, being left out of the will. They asked a French court to temporarily freeze several of the Hallyday’s French estates.
The French court granted the request put forth by the oldest children. However, the court refused to allow the oldest children to participate in preparing Hallyday’s posthumous album. The judge ruled in favor of the widow and the younger children.
Wills and revocable trusts are important and necessary for both celebrities and the average person alike. In celebrity cases, inheritance disputes are often in the public spotlight as they receive considerable media attention. As a result, they offer a cautionary tale about the difficulties family members face when a loved one fails to draft a clear, legally sound will before their death.
A properly drafted trust will keep a family’s affairs private, with no court involvement unless a dispute arises. Individuals with assets in other countries must plan ahead and get advice on how to compose will that will obey the laws of each country.
Working with an experienced attorney to craft an effective will and trusts helps avoid problems in the future for loved ones when you are no longer around. It provides details about exactly how you would like your assets to be distributed. In the absence of a will, the state is left to decide using a formulaic approach, which may lead to unnecessary emotional distress for family members.