St. Mary's Law Journal


After reviewing the Texas Probate Code, the Texas Property Code, and current case law, this Essay compiles relevant information designed to assist attorneys in obtaining payment for services provided to their clients. An attorney ad litem is an officer of the court whose “fees are assessed as costs of suit” rather than requiring the ad litem to seek “fees only from his clients’ recovered shares.” Therefore, each attorney ad litem appointed under § 34A of the Texas Probate Code is entitled to reasonable compensation for services in the amount set by the court. The attorney’s fees “must be supported by competent evidence.” As the Austin Court of Appeals noted, “When no evidence or insufficient evidence supports an award, the court abuses its discretion in making the award.” The San Antonio Court of Appeals explained that when ad litems are defending their client’s interests on appeal, they are entitled to compensation regardless of the outcome. But when an attorney ad litem represents the successful party, the court should assess costs against the estate and not against the adverse party. Failure to request attorney’s fees at trial waives the issue on appeal. Attorneys may recoup their fees through a multitude of legal avenues, such as the Texas Probate Code, the Texas Property Code, and Texas case law. It is imperative, however, for an attorney to stay apprised of changes as the legislature passes new laws and enacts corresponding statutes. By doing so, attorneys will not only be better equipped to confidently and zealously represent their clients, they will also be more likely to obtain and collect outstanding legal fees.


St. Mary's University School of Law