Darlene Payne Smith is a member of the firm’s Fiduciary Litigation Group and the firm’s Probate, Trust and Guardianship Administrative Group. She also mediates two cases per month.
Her practice is focused on individuals who have experienced a loss or are facing the issue of a loved one who is becoming incapacitated or suffered a traumatic injury that rendered them incapacitated and individuals and trust companies who serve as fiduciaries. Darlene fights to uphold the wishes of those who have established valid estate plans and she defends fiduciaries wrongfully accused. She also seeks justice against fiduciaries who have wronged their beneficiaries.
As a result, Darlene often appears in courts in Harris, Montgomery, Brazoria, Galveston, Fort Bend, Brazos, San Jacinto, Chambers, Walker, Tarrant, Travis, Dallas and Jefferson Counties, as well as in Hildago and Cameron Counties.
Darlene represents fiduciaries and beneficiaries in trial and appellate courts of those counties, and across the State of Texas, in matters relating to probate, guardianship, trust litigation and administration.
Because of her knowledge and skill, Darlene often is sought to help resolve disputes or to improve the knowledge of fellow attorneys. She is a frequent writer and speaker for the State Bar and other entities of continuing legal education.
Darlene is an adjunct professor at South Texas College of Law. She is a co-author of the Texas Jury Charge publication for Probate and Trust and a sustaining member of the Pattern Jury Charge Committee. She is also a mediator of probate, trust, guardianship, and related matters.
Darlene has been honored many times over the years for her accomplishments including being selected to the 2006-2011 and 2014-2023 Texas Super Lawyers lists (Thomson Reuters) and the 2024 Best Lawyers in America (BL Rankings) for Litigation – Trusts and Estates. She was chosen to be on the 2020 Texas Top Women Attorneys List, Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters). In 2019, she was featured in the inaugural edition of Texas Trailblazers published by Texas Lawyer.