Family Inheritance of Mineral (Oil/Gas) Deeds

My cousins and I recently inherited Oil & Gas rights from our parents, who got them from their parents (our grandfather was a landman the 1920’s - 1940’s). No one in the family kept good records, and we only have pieces of the puzzle. Based on what we can cobble together from old probated wills, final estate tax filings, and old (and some current) documentation, we believe we have holdings in at least 4 Oklahoma counties and 2 in Texas, and possibly more. What we had so far has been probated for 2 of my cousins, mine is underway, and another cousin needs to probate hers. My questions:

  1. I’d like to get copies of all the original mineral deeds so that we have an audit trail. I have county, section, township and range information. I’ve researched genealogy records, so am accustomed to looking in old courthouse records. Would it be easiest for me to do this myself? I’m thinking, yes…
  2. If we find new deeds of which we were previously unaware, those need to be probated in that county, correct?
  3. What is the best way to find a reputable attorney in each county to assist us. I have one now that doesn’t seem to be “up to par” in terms of research and follow through, and may need to make a change.
  4. What is the best and most accepted method to value the rights for probate?
  5. Once we find copies of all the deeds, what are the steps we should take to ensure that we are being paid for production that may be occurring on that land? If there has been production, do we have rights to reach back and get paid for prior production?

Thank you!

Let me add that most of these properties are non-producing - and I have a spreadsheet of all the properties - 30+ in all.

You’d be best off hiring a landman to research the records for you to get an idea of what’s going on. Then, figure out what needs to be done and determine if a landman can continue to handle it or if you need an attorney (I would obviously use an attorney for probate and such things a landman cannot do). A knowledgeable and experienced landman can often times do most of the work far cheaper than an attorney, and you can just use an attorney when necessary. Check out www.paschalland.com

No, if there is already a probate that has been completed in that state, you may be able to have the additional property recognized by the court. You won’t need to go through the entire process again.

In Oklahoma a probate in one county is good statewide. So you don’t need attorneys in every county.

If it is producing 3x the annual is a “rule of thumb”. This really isn’t an issue unless you are approaching estate tax issues.

Richard - thank you for your responses. What about non-producing valuation? While I understand that valuation normally isn’t an issue, there is a “wrinkle” in one of the estates, so we need a fair and reasonable valuation.

An engineer or landman may be able to provide a valuation.