Social media is an inextricable part of many of our lives. Whether it is sharing pictures of a latte on Instagram or him showing off your promotion at work on Facebook, it only makes sense that you want to keep your friends and loved ones updated as to what you are up to. While social media has made many things easier, it does present some unique challenges for legal cases. How could social media impact a will contests and other types of legal claims?
Social Media Posts Are Discoverable
Sometimes on social media you post things so that anyone with the link to your profile can see them. In other cases, you may intend for the posts to be private, but that does not stop your social media accounts from being potentially discoverable in lawsuits and used against you in a court of law. While many people understand the potential effects that social media can have for child custody or divorce cases, they do not necessarily think about a will contest as a potential place where social media posts could help or harm a case.
A Practical Example of Social Media and Will Contests
Johnny Hallyday was known as “The French Elvis” and worked in showbiz for over six decades. Like many modern celebrities, he also maintained an active Instagram account designed to show a mixture of his life at home and on the road. The account was also used in a heavily publicized will contest over his estate, which was valued at tens of millions of dollars.
The will contest arose because the singer had two different wills in his safe deposit box. One of the wills made his wife (at his time of passing) the heir and manager of his estate. This document was written in Los Angeles in accordance with US laws. However, France does not allow Hallyday to cut out his two adult children from his will.
As part of their evidence in the will contest, his children sought a way to demonstrate that Hallyday spent the majority of his time in France and not in the United States, where the will would be considered legally valid. When submitting evidence to the court, his son included a chart of his locations from 2012-2017 as substantiated by pictures from his Instagram account. These photos revealed that Hallyday lived in France for 151 days in 2015, 168 days in 2016, and over eight consecutive months in France in 2017 before his passing. This fascinating case is proof that social media posts can impact a will contest.
Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help With Your Estate Planning Case
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