Hi. My name's Sandra and I'm new here. About two weeks ago, out of NOWHERE, I received calls and letters from a landsman in Arkansas with questions regarding my family history. It seems my great grandmother's brother (on my dad's side), owned an "interest" in several acres in Tyler County. It seems there's nobody left in the family but me and my brother.
We're not 100% sure there's nobody left, just pretty sure. I have some records, but can't find any additional relations. The landsman spoke to my mom and asked if she would be willing to sign an affidavit stating that my grandfather's two sisters had no children. That made my mom a little nervous.
So, what advice can you give me? Has anyone else had a similar experience? I've always been a little disappointed that my dad's family is all gone, but never dreamed of a situation like this.
Thanks so much in advance for any comments you can pass along. It's so strange to read about all the activity going on in my old stomping grounds. My mom was born and raised in Middlebourne (she was country) and my dad was born and raised in Sistersville (he was town). I've spent many peaceful days in Tyler County. My grandma had a house that overlooked the Ohio River and used to sit on the back porch and watch the barges go by. Sweet memories.
Sandra, My story is a little different. I have the original deeds dating back to when my grandfather's great-grandfather so there was no question about ownership.
Don't sign anything you do not feel comfortable with. The landmen are in a race to see who can get the most land signed first so they are rather pushy sometimes. It sounds like what is happening in your case is the landman has gone as far as they can go in researching proper ownership. If later down the road and this property is developed then someone comes out of the woodwork to claim ownership it would be on you and your mom to defend those rights, not the oil company. If there really isn't anyone then you have nothing to worry about.
If I were in your shoes and I was fairly certain there wasn't anyone else in the family then I would sign it. I would run it by an attorney first though. I recommend one in another thread in this group which I can't seem to find right now.
You might be able to jump on a genealogy site to research this as well. I know the popular one, ancestory.com, is a paid site and occasionally has free weekends to entice you to join. Depending on the potential lease bonus it may be worth the cost to pay.
I hope you are able to find some peace with this. For me paying an attorney $750 brought me a lot of peace of mind. There were a couple of issues in the contract that he warned me about but other than that it was fine. Knowing someone else smarter than I looked at it made me feel like we did the right thing.
You didn't ask about taxes but I'll throw this in here: Make sure you save up enough of whatever lease bonus you get to pay taxes. I even recommend pre-paying the IRS for this. I got bit by the tax-man in 2013 because I didn't save enough and had to pay an underpayment penalty. If I had to do it again I would have saved another few hundred of the lease bonus to pay someone to do my taxes. I saved 28% of the lease bonus but should have saved closer to 34%.
Jeff, thank you so much for your reply. I searched your prior postings and found an attorney's name: Kyle Nuttall. I think I'm going to contact him and see what he says. And thanks so much for the extra info about the taxes. Where on earth would we all be if we didn't have to worry about taxes?? :-) Thanks again. -Sandra
Actually the one I suggested was Brad Stephens (Stephens Law Office, PLLC), 304-680-4055, email@example.com.
Don't sign any lease until you do some research. Go to the top of this site and read some of the topics in "Mineral Help" section. Read, read and read some more. Google about mineral rights leasing too. You can get some good info while you are waiting to here from Kyle N. One thing you will want is a no warranty of title clause to insure you won't have to guarantee what the lease says about ownership. It is the companies responsibility to find the heirs and do the research, not you. The only thing you need to do is tell them what terms are agreeable to you and what are not as far as leasing.