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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Earle Stanton, an only child, died without a will. He was unmarried with no children, and therefore his heirs were the descendants of his parents’ siblings. Carnegie H. Mims Jr., was appointed temporary administrator of the estate. Mims entered into a management contract with Peggy Ann Black and Henry Jackson to manage the estate’s real property. The probate court entered an order appointing Scott Killough as the attorney ad litem for the unknown heirs of the estate and ordered Mims to pay $15,000 from estate funds to Killough as a deposit to defray the costs of his investigation to identify and locate the decedent’s heirs. After Mims’ appointment as temporary administrator expired, he filed an application requesting the court to authorize payment of attorney’s fees to him for legal services he performed while serving as temporary administrator. Then Black and Jackson each filed an application to be appointed as temporary administrator. Two days later, Mims himself filed an application, asking to be appointed again as temporary administrator. The probate court denied their applications and appointed Ken Raney as dependent administrator. The court also denied Mims’ application for attorney’s fees, without prejudice to refiling. Mims then timely filed his appeal. HOLDING:Affirmed. Mims challenges the ad litem’s standing and authority and contends the probate court erred in appointing a third-party dependent administrator, failing to award Mims attorney’s fees for legal services he performed as the temporary administrator and ordering an advance to the attorney ad litem for expenses. Mims contends that Killough did not have the authority or standing either to oppose the appointment of a temporary administrator or to apply for the appointment of an independent third-party administrator. The court holds that Killough’s clients, had they been present, could have opposed the appointment of a temporary administrator and applied for the appointment of an independent third-party administrator. Because they were not present, the court rules that Killough had both standing and the authority to take those actions on behalf of his clients. Mims next contends the probate court abused its discretion when it appointed an independent third party as administrator instead of himself, Black or Jackson. But the court finds, with reference to Mims, Black and Jackson, that the evidence shows all three acted contrary to the authority granted by the probate court. The court holds that this evidence supports the probate court’s determination that all three were unsuitable to be appointed temporary administrator of the estate. Therefore, the probate court did not abuse its discretion in appointing Raney as the dependent administrator of the estate. Mims also contends the trial court abused its discretion when it did not award him attorney’s fees for legal services he performed while he served as temporary administrator. Mims filed a request for $15,140 in attorney’s fees and out-of-pocket expenses. The probate court stated at the hearing on Mims’ application that it could not distinguish the fees for the work Mims had done as temporary administrator and from the fees for his legal services. Consequently, the probate court denied Mims’ application, but stated that he could refile it. The court concludes that this was not an abuse of the trial court’s discretion. Mims then questions the inherent power of the probate court to order a deposit paid to the attorney ad litem from estate funds for expenses or to authorize the attorney ad litem to retain counsel on appeal to represent him. The court finds that the evidence in this case showed that substantial investigation by an heir-tracing service would be required to trace the heirship of the decedent and to locate the heirs. The evidence also showed that because there was a large number of potential heirs, the estimated cost of the investigation was $15,000. The court therefore holds that the deposit was necessary to provide the ad litem with funds to pay for the investigation. OPINION:Worthen, C.J.; Worthen, C.J., Griffith and DeVasto, JJ.

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