This 2012 High Court case dealt with the £40m estate of "Turkey Tycoon" Bernard Matthews.
Under a French Will Mr Matthews left his £12 million Saint Tropez villa to Odile, his mistress. However, under the French rules of forced heirship, Mr Matthews' children were automatically entitled to 75% of the villa, regardless of the terms of their father's Will. The tycoon wrote a letter of wishes to his family asking his children not to exercise their rights and to respect his bequest to Odile. George, Mr Matthews' biological son, who inherited £30m from his father, respected Mr Matthews' wishes. Mr Matthews' three adopted children, however, were not provided for in their father's Will and chose to claim their automatic French law entitlement. The effect of the children's decisions was that Odile received 43.75% of the villa (a 25% share under the Will and George's share) and the remaining three children a 56.25% interest.
The case reached the High Court over the tax liability for the villa. The Will provided that Mr Matthews' executors should pay all tax arising in consequence of Mr Matthews' death, including French taxes. The children's case was that the doctrine of election did not apply and if it did, the money due for tax should fall into the residue inherited by George.
The High Court ordered that the children would retain their share of property under French law but that the inheritance tax must be paid by the adopted children and could not be paid from their late father's English estate.