Two of children of the late French rock star Johnny Hallyday plan to contest his will, with family tensions ready to boil over after he left his entire fortune and all his artistic rights to his fourth wife, Laeticia—32 years his junior.
The Guardian reports in its article, “Johnny Hallyday's children to contest will leaving them nothing” that attorneys acting for Laura Smet, 34, and her half-brother, David Hallyday, 51, said the will drafted by the man known as “the French Elvis” was “manifestly in contravention of the requirements of French law.”
Laura said she was “stupefied and hurt” after discovering that she and David–Hallyday’s only two biological children–were written out of their father’s will. The document was signed in California, where Hallyday spent most of his later years.
In an open letter to the French news agency AFP, Smet also described some hard feelings between family members. She believed she’d been prevented by Laeticia, a 42-year-old former model, from meeting with her father, as well as having the chance to say goodbye to him before he died of lung cancer at age 74.
“Dear Papa, it’s two months since you left,” she wrote. “I miss you so much, and at the same time I have never felt you so close to me. I learned a few days ago that you wrote a will completely disinheriting David and I. It was only a few weeks ago that we were eating together, and you said to me: ‘So when are you going to have a child?’
But what can I pass on to that child about you, someone I’ve admired so much? … So many questions without answers. So many times, we had to hide to see or call each other. I cannot bear not having been able to say goodbye to you papa, do you know that, at least? … (But) I hear you, papa, and I have decided to fight. I would have preferred it if this could have stayed in the family, but unfortunately that’s the way our family is.”
According to the article, in France, a widow doesn’t automatically inherit all her husband’s estate. The custom is to share part of it with his children. Hallyday’s will stated that if Laeticia dies, all of his property and rights should pass to Jade and Joy, the daughters he adopted in Vietnam with her.
Smet’s attorneys said she had been left with “no material goods, no rights to his artistic work, no souvenir, no guitar, not even the signed sleeve of the song Laura, which is dedicated to her … When one is a child, one has the right to receive something from one’s father.”
Hallyday was born Jean-Philippe Smet. The artist sold more than 110 million records and was seen live by an estimated 28 million people in a career that lasted more than 50 years. The recordings of the French Elvis went gold 40 times and platinum 22 times in France. However, he was virtually unknown abroad.
In California, you can leave your estate to whom ever you want. We encourage our clients to be upfront with family members should they be disinherited to prevent hurt feelings and discord among those you leave living.
One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation. Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about your estate plan, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security. Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.
Reference: The Guardian (February 12, 2018) “Johnny Hallyday's children to contest will leaving them nothing”