Estate of Johnny Hallyday ( The French Elvis) may be bogged down in a nasty dispute
According to a recent online story, several of rock singer Johnny Hallyday’s family members are involved in bitter estate battle. Known as the French Elvis, Mr. Hallyday ( born in Paris, France on June 15, 1943 as Jean-Philippe Leo Smet passed away on December 5, 2017 at the age of 74. Throughout his 57 years career, he sold more than 110 million records worldwide. His estate is estimated to be worth in excess of $100 million. The dispute is between his widow, Laeticia Hallyday, 43, and his two eldest children, David Hallyday, 51, and Laura Smet, 34.
In a Will prepared in the United States, Mr. Hallyday left everything to Laeticia and their two adopted children Jade, 13, and Joy, 9. Mr. Hallyday had David from his marriage to singer Sylvie Vartan, and he had Laura with actress Nathalie Baye. Consequently, David and Laura were disinherited. Mr. Hallyday allegedly declared that he had provided for them while he was alive.
The matter is currently before a tribunal in Paris, France. The main issues are whether Mr. Hallyday’s US Will is valid, whether his estate falls under French inheritance laws, and whether he is French for tax purposes, or American. Although he was born in Paris on June 15, 1943, he resided in the US for a large part of his life. He also owned a large home on the outskirts of Paris.
The Court has been asked to determine if a French citizen like Mr. Hallyday had the right to avoid France’s inheritance laws by claiming to be a resident of Los Angeles. Under French law, children cannot be disinherited. As a result, Mr. Hallyday’s widow would be entitled to 25% of his estate, and each of his children an equal 18.75%.
Laeticia’s position is that his final will was governed by US laws thereby allowing him to distribute his fortune as he wished.
Hallyday dispute likely to last a long time
Many music icons’ estates have been involved in lengthy and bitter disputes. Hopefully, the parties in this dispute will be reasonable and will not tarnish the deceased’s legacy. The estate of a music icon can have tremendous future earnings based on publishing and intellectual property rights. The money an estate earns over time may even increase. As a result, potential beneficiaries are usually willing to litigate their rights to the bitter end.
The amount of money involved in this dispute is also very significant. One of the primary issues to be determined should be which jurisdiction governs the estate. It is unclear if lawyers were involved in preparing the impugned US Will. It is also unclear if there are any other Wills. The tax authorities of both the United States and France will likely be tracking this dispute.
This will be an interesting story to follow. More here.