In re Estate of Hawkins, 187 S.W.3d 182 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2006, no pet.).

Estate Administration

Attorney’s Fees

Against Personal Representative Who Neglects Duty


The probate court determined that Administrator did not timely distribute Intestate’s estate to Heir and ordered Administrator to pay Heir’s attorney’s fees under Probate Code § 245. Administrator appealed.

The appellate court affirmed. The court rejected Administrator’s argument that § 245 authorizes an award of attorney’s fees only for an action seeking the removal of a personal representative. Instead, the court pointed out that the statute expressly permits an award of attorney’s fees “[w]hen a personal representative neglects to perform a required duty” which in this case was the failure to make a timely distribution of estate property to Heir. The court also rejected Administrator’s argument that attorney’s fees may be awarded only after the estate is closed. The court explained that costs and attorney’s fees may be awarded at any time.

Moral: The court may award attorney’s fees anytime a personal representative fails to perform a required duty.