Division order and probate

My brothers and I inherited mineral rights from our Grandmother on a small piece of land in Mountrail County. Well, the chain went like this: Grandma died, then Grandpa died, then Mom died, then Dad died. All of these people had wills. Now our landman sends me an email that the Oil Company will be sending us a division order (not sure what that is) and that we should get everything probated as soon as possible. From conversations I've had, I have heard it will cost us anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand to do this... what's resonable and does anyone have any recommendations?


A division order is the document sent to the mineral owner(s) after a well has been drilled on the mineral acreage and serves as a tool for making future royalty payments to the correct mineral owners. This landman is correct in that you and siblings should get all wills probated ASAP. I'm not sure on the monetary amount your facing as I'm sure this varies depending on what attorney you hire. I used Laura Christopherson, located in Culbertson, MT back in 2004 and she was very dependable and her fees were very fair. I would advise you to shop around as some attorney fees can be very expensive.

Depending on what state your mineral rights are in, an Affidavit of Heirship might be all that is required to transfer the rights. Check with an attorney about that.

Thanks guys, the well is in Mountrail Co North Dakota .. We have to find someone in North Dakota I think ..?..

Most likely you will have to probate in ND, but you can do a probate in any county in ND. I would pick a county as far from the oil producing counties as possible, hopefully cheaper and faster is the reason. I think in rare instances when there is very little at stake an affidavit of heirship may be enough to get paid, I would not count on that though.

Anyone have any recommendations?


Looking over my files, I came across the name of a law firm in Williston, ND. The name is Schmitz Law Office, Cathey Schmitz - attorney. I have never used them but I have heard positive things about their services in the past. Again, I am giving you this information based on others I have spoken to in the past. I am sure there are numerous oil and gas attorneys in the Williston area so you might want to call around for prices.

Nancy said:

Anyone have any recommendations?

You need to consult with at least 2 to 3 attorneys experienced in probate law in the county the property is located (or if an adjacent county if it has a large city they can probably help you).

Do not fall for the old "percentage fee" where the attorney charges a fee based on a percentage of the value of the assets. This was once common and older attorneys frequently still try to use it. If an attorney suggests a contingency fee run the other way.

Insist on an hourly fee that is customary in your location. Expect to pay a retainer. Laws are different from state to state but usually when real estate or real property rights are involved you have to go through court supervised probate.

Realize that you will be probating four estates not one and there are probably seperate court filing fees and seperate procedures for each estate.