Eva Saulnier


Inheritance law or—as called in Europe—private law was developed in the shadow of different historical, social, cultural, and economic circumstances. Consequently, countries adopted various characteristics for the disposition of property at death. But with today’s growing globalization, the national regulations’ differences are becoming a growing issue for multinational families.

This Note examines cross-border inheritance through the lens of a current multinational inheritance battle. The late French singer Johnny Hallyday’s testamentary documents disinheriting his two eldest children and asking for Californian law to be applied to his estate is currently being challenged. While freedom of testation and the testator’s intent are key aspects in the disposition of property in America, French law provides for a mandatory forced share given to all the testator’s children.

This Note argues that the current choice of law system is unfit for the needs of multinational families and is too ambiguous for a fair application in all cases. Further, this Note argues that, while unification of the laws would be an ideal solution and that both French and American inheritance law seem to be growing closer together, the current approach to unification is not viable for success. Instead, this Note proposes a different approach where a set of model laws would be agreed upon for cases that would qualify under the Multinational Family definition. Such a solution would further a more equal and fair system, and would respond to the growing need for clarity caused by globalization. Finally, this Note predicts that the adoption of this proposal may lead to a subsequent natural shift of local laws and eventually lead to complete convergence of the laws.