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Alain Delon case: can he favor one of his children for his inheritance?

Does the actor have the right to favor his daughter Anouchka over his 2 other children Anthony and Alain-Fabien? Yes, according to French law.

Reading Time : 2 minut(s) - | Updated on 13-02-2024 23:16 | Published on 08-01-2024 12:55 

The actor would bequeath 50% of his fortune to Anouchka Delon, and only 25% each to Anthony and Alain-Fabien

In the wake of publicized family quarrels, the question of equity in the succession among children takes on a particularly sharp turn in France. The case of the family of actor Alain Delon, 88, is a striking example.

At the heart of the debate, an apparently uneven distribution of the future inheritance that the actor will leave to his 3 children, Anthony, Anouchka, and Alain-Fabien. The topic was brought up by Anthony during an interview on the CNews channel. Anouchka would be allotted half of the paternal fortune, while he and Alain-Fabien would share the other half.

This information raises misunderstanding, even indignation, among some observers who question the legal possibility of such an arrangement. Is it legal to favor one child when planning one's succession?

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The available share: key to testamentary freedom

The secret of this distribution likely lies in a legal tool well-rooted in French law: the use of the "quotité disponible". By will, a parent can indeed choose to bequeath a portion of their estate to one or more of their children in particular, or even to someone outside the family, without disinheriting the others.

The "quotité disponible" corresponds to the fraction of the estate upon which the testator has full power of disposition, after reserving the legitimate share to their direct heirs, in this case, their children.

When you have three children, the law provides that each child benefits from 25% of the succession (the "reserve héréditaire"). The remaining 25% can be allocated as the parent wishes. They can be divided equally or attributed to the person they wish.

Clearly, Alain Delon is legally required to reserve 25% of his estate for each of his 3 children. The remaining 25% can be given to the person of his choice. Here, the actor probably chose to allot this "quotité disponible" to his daughter Anouchka when drafting a notarial will, possibly co-signed by all future heirs. His daughter would then be the recipient of 50% of the fortune of the said legendary figure, without his other two children being disinherited, in the legal sense of the term.

Johnny Hallyday, Karl Lagerfeld: the limits of freedom in the context of an inheritance

The freedom to allocate all or part of one's inheritance is, however, not absolute in France, as demonstrated by two famous cases: those of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld and singer Johnny Hallyday.

Despite his wishes, Lagerfeld was not able to leave his fortune to his cat Choupette: French law does not recognize animals as inheritors. As for Johnny Hallyday, the legal battle around his estate highlights the limitations of French law in terms of international succession. His children, David Hallyday and Laura Smet, initially did not receive their reserved portion due to a will established under the more permissive Californian regime. However, French law, being protective of reserved heirs, such disposition can be contested, as was the case for the singer's estate, thus revealing the complexities of succession law when multiple jurisdictions come into play.

Succession remains an area where emotions and law intersect in complex ways, and the examples of Delon, Lagerfeld, and Hallyday perfectly illustrate how personal choices can clash with legal principles, both nationally and internationally.

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