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My parents purchased Oklahoma land (10 acres) from a relative. The relative retained a life estate in the minerals. An old well was producing (marginal) on the property at the time of the sale. Eventually that well was plugged and abandoned. The life estate holder recently leased the minerals to a new company without my knowledge. The remainderman (me) did not ratify that new lease when I was approached by the lessee to do so. A new horizontal well is in the process of being drilled in the section, and the new Operator has named me as a party (as well as the lessee on the life estate's interest) in the notice of pooling hearing. Upon inquiriy, their agent tell me that it is for curative purposes.
The pooling hearing is coming up soon. I have researched online this area of Okla law, and find no legal authority squarely on point for this particular situation. Seems like when the person passes away, the lease is over, or may not ever have been valid in the first place. I am wondering if I will be subject to forced pooling at that time instead of now, or if another course of action may be available to me. I might want to participate, but the life estate holder might have preempted my ability to do that (or, maybe the company they leased to is picking up the participation cost for me?). The lease terms on the life estate's lease were very unfavorable to the lessor.
I appreciate any guidance that can be offered.
You can lease to another company also I believe with different terms. If you don't though, yes you will have to be force pooled.
But if your lease from the life estate is still in effect, you cant do anything. your bound by the lease of your predecessor. Unfortunately, old leases usually aren't good ones.
Check out this website and paper. Oklahoma O&G Title Law. Is the life tenant's lease still in effect after that life estate terminates? I'm not 100% sure in Oklahoma. According to this, the life tenant is entitled to the bonus, delay rentals and interest from the royalty. And it says the life tenant can't execute an effective lease with the joinder of the remainderman. Here's what it says exactly:
The life tenant of a life estate has the right to possession of the property with the remainderman obtaining possession upon the death of the life tenant. Neither the life tenant nor the remainderman can execute an effective oil and gas lease without the joinder of the other. Nutter v. Stockton, 626 P.Zd 861, 69 O&GR 497 (Okla. 1981).
Oklahoma Statutes Title 60 $$71 and 72 provide the procedure for appointing a trustee to execute an oil and gas lease on behalf of contingent remaindermen.
Hmmmm..is Texas similar to Oklahoma as well. My mother passed 2001 and I assumed the life estate died with her but have not ever been included in this, I have found a sister is on that well, and the assignment passed from one lease to another this year. with several of our relatives. Could someone tell me where do I look up this in Texas law.
It's very fact specific. Were you a remainderman to the life estate?