In re Estate of Wilcox, 193 S.W.3d 701 (Tex. App.—Beaumont 2006, no pet.).

Estate Administration

Attorney Fees

Beneficiary’s Defense of Conduct


Mother’s will named certain of her children as beneficiaries and executors. One of the children (Mary) sued her siblings alleging a variety of misdeeds. One of the defendant brothers (Peter) who was not serving as an executor filed a motion seeking a summary judgment. After winning the summary judgment action, Peter obtained an order granting him attorney’s fees under Probate Code § 243. Mary appealed.

The appellate court reversed, holding that Probate Code § 243 did not give the court the power to award Peter his attorney fees. Peter was not attempting to have Mother’s will admitted to probate or defending the validity of the will. Instead, Peter was defending himself against Mary’s assertions of personal wrongdoing.

Moral: A beneficiary who defends him- or herself against accusations of personal wrongdoing relating to a testator’s estate is unlikely to recover attorney fees for the defense under Probate Code § 243.