Children challenge rock star’s will

The children of Johnny Hallyday, the French rock star who died aged 74 in December 2017 from lung cancer, are to challenge his will in the French courts.

Actress, Laura Smet and her half-brother David Hallyday are contesting their rock star father’s will after finding that he had left his estate to Laeticia, his fourth wife, and the couple’s adopted daughters.

Smet, 34, said in a statement that she was “stupefied and hurt”.

Lawyers for Smet argue that the California-drafted will is in contravention of French laws preventing the disinheritance of children.

Ian Pearl, a Partner in the Dispute Resolution team at OGR Stock Denton LLP, said: “This case is interesting because it raises the issue of inheritance where there are, as is increasingly common, complex family relationships. It also raises the subject of cross-border issues in probate.

“While this particular dispute will be settled by the French courts, similar scenarios regularly play out in the UK.

“Where someone dies domiciled in England and Wales, the Deceased’s children, along with various other categories of people associated with the deceased, are entitled to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975. This Act, gives the Court power to make orders in favour of a claimant, when it finds that the will failed to make “reasonable financial provision” for them.”

The case law on what is “reasonable financial provision” is long and tortuous. The case of Ilott –v- Mitson (an adult child being disinherited by her mother in favour of charities) went all the way to the Supreme Court. Since then there have been further cases involving both dissatisfied spouses and children.

The case law shows that each dispute is highly fact sensitive. One thing that is very important is that potential claimants should seek advice early because under the Act claims must be brought within six months from the date of the grant of probate.

More information on contentious probate is available here.

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OGR Stock Denton
Posted in Contested Probate.