International successions are by far the most complex and delicate business that can exist in inheritance litigation. Johnny Hallyday’s estate is a typical example, while two of his children, Laura Smet and David Hallyday, are challenging his last will drafted under Californian Law. Because Johnny Hallyday would have been a resident of California, he would have the possibility to disinherit his two elder children, because the Californian Law is not as protecting as the French law regarding the rights of heirs.
Several questions may arise to heirs, whether it is about the competent court or the applicable law. If you are worn-out and feel deprived of your rights in a will that disinherits you; if you wish to put everything in action to apply the French Law. Do not worry, Avocats Picovschi, from its experience of thirty years, shares its expertise in this field.
Heirs, enforce French Law!
It is important to know that applicable Law is generally the Law of the habitual residence of the deceased (article 21 § 1 from the European rule n°650/2012 or RE). By exception, it may be the Law of another State if the deceased maintained a close relationship with that State (article 21 alinea 2 of RE). Lastly, according to the freedom of choice, the article 22 of RE also underlines that the expected Law in the will applies, especially if the deceased who is living abroad wanted the applicable Law to be the one of his nationality.
Therefore, if the applicable Law jeopardizes your interests as a rightful heir, do not let it be ! It is possible to oppose and to enforce the French Law by challenging the residency, or even the requisite connection, which can be difficult, because there is no legal definition of residency, which is only based on circumstantial evidences.
When right now Johnny Hallyday’s estate is causing trouble, the rightful heirs can be prejudiced in the resolution of an estate at an international level, which is the reason why it can be necessary to enforce French Law to preserve the heirs’ legal rights in France. Even though it requires further information, we can deduce that apparently David Hallyday and Laura Smet, the singer’s children, would be disinherited for the benefit of Laetitia Hallyday, the surviving spouse.
If it is the case, it is more than required for the heirs to call upon French Law and to the principle of forced heirship that is afforded to all children, even if limited by the rights of the surviving spouse, or by a recent jurisprudence of the French Supreme jurisdiction (Cour de cassation) which recognized that the forced heirship could be ignored by a foreign law, that it is not contrary to the French international public order (Cass. 1ère Civ, 27/09/2017 – n°16-13.151 et n°16-17.198). However, a part of the estate must be granted to the rightful heirs if they are in a situation of an economic precarity or need
Thus, the support of a lawyer, skilled in inheritance litigation, and more specifically in international estate planning, is necessary if you wish to optimize your chances to succeed.
How to bring the matter before the French courts?
In terms of international estate, the issue of the competent court can be raised. As a matter of principle, if the heirs want to bring the matter before the French courts, it is, for example necessary that:
- The deceased's last residency was in France (Article 4 of RE);
- Or that an asset included in the estate is located in France, being specified that a French judge can only rule on the asset in question ;
- Or, that one of the heirs has the French nationality
Indeed, international estate planning holds numerous subtleties that shall be analyzed accurately. In this article, the point was to enlighten as well as possible some of the issues that seem to arise in the context of Johnny Hallyday’s estate.
Keeping in mind that some of these issues are often raised in some successions at an international level. Picovschi Lawyers is committed to their clients and remains at your entire disposal to deal with this kind of delicate situation in which you may find yourself.