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ESTATE DISPUTES: Hallyday family wins estate asset freeze while forced-heirship litigation continues

A court in France has issued a freezing order against the French assets of the late popular rhythm singer, Johnny Hallyday.

Hallyday left his estimated EUR100 million estate to his American fourth wife, Laeticia, and their two adopted children. As he was domiciled in California at his death in December last year, his will could dispose of his US assets in any way he chose.

However, he also has two older children, David Hallyday and Laura Smet, from previous marriages. They are challenging the US will as contrary to France's forced-heirship law, which would divide the estate between all four children and Laeticia.

This dispute is likely to continue for some time, as it turns on assessments of the strength of his links to France after two decades of exile.

Meanwhile, the disinherited son and daughter are trying to prevent the French-sited assets being shifted to a US-based trust whose sole beneficiary is Laeticia Hallyday.

Last week they scored a partial victory, by persuading a court in Nanterre that French law applies to some of the disputed estate. The court issued an order forbidding the sale of Hallyday's house near Paris, and a property in the Caribbean island of Saint-Barthélemy. The order also froze the estate's income from royalties. However, it declined to interfere with Hallyday's two properties in California, which are occupied by his widow.