I am looking for some direction please. We discovered that some of my husband’s grandmother’s mineral interests did not get reported in probate and therefore were not distributed so payments have been going to the state. While trying to figure out where these interests are located we have discovered other mineral interests were owned by both her father and her grandfather. We are out of state and have used some of the websites available to find what we can in their names. The landman that was interested in one of the properties that we have been getting royalties on said he would look into these others for us. Today he told us that “there hasn’t been a lot of progress because it is going to take running extensive title to prove ownership.” These properties have producing oil wells some of which are horizontal. I have found records online surrounding probate when deaths occurred but nothing, including sales records in the last 40 years. We are at a standstill and are not sure what path to take next. The properties are in Martin County, Howard County and Bordon County. It is probably only one that is sending payments to the state. I am wondering if the other’s got lost in previous probates or the companies could not find the heirs. Any advice would be appreciated. If we find that he owns other interests, there is a good chance that he would want to sell those as well.
What is your great grandfathers name? Do you have any of the deeds or anything?
I can run a quick search through DrillingInfo Courthouse for your husband’s grandmother, but I will need her name and when she died. Also any legal descriptions would be helpful. Names of her father and grandfather would be helpful too in looking for additional interests.
I am not sure if I can answer specifically…but I know one thing from my situation. Mineral rights in Texas HAVE to specifically be willed to a specific person/persons. If not, then they go to the surviving heir. However, you have to PROVE that you are the surviving heir. If there are cousins that have the same claim then the rights are split. For example, I had an uncle by marriage that died and had no children with out a will. My paternal aunt inherited those rights (unbeknownst to her as there was no drilling). When she died, she left everything to my cousin in a will BUT did not specify those mineral rights. Fast forward 40 years, a company approached my cousin and bought her “sole” rights. However, when the company lawyers were signing off they realized that she had not specifically willed mineral rights so they go to all of the heirs. They would have gone to her 2 sisters and brother (my dad). Since all of the brothers and sisters were deceased, the rights go to THEIR children. So one sister had the one daughter that initially sold to the company, the other sister had one child, and my dad had 2. So in other words, the rights were divided into thirds. One third going to the first cousin and the second third going to the 2nd cousin and the last third divided between my sister and I. I do believe that it will take extensive research to figure out what goes to who. It is not a first come first served basis. Maybe hire an oil and gas attorney if you think you have a bigger claim than someone else.
While you could continue doing it yourself, I would think working through a landman would be your best bet, and depending on the complexity of the title, heirship, etc., possibly an attorney for curing the title. Both options will not be cheap… A landman’s day rate would likely be in the $400-$500/ day range, and an attorney would bill hourly. You can get creative and possibly find someone willing to do the work for a contingency fee or something similar. In the case of selling the interests, a buyer will (and should) bear the cost of landwork. The catch here, in my mind, would be that you are not certain what the ballpark ownership interest is, and so it may or may not be “worth it” if too small.
It does seem like you have done a lot of leg work, and that would be very helpful to anyone working on cleaning the title up. One thought would be to pay a landman for a day or two to at least identify the acreage in those counties, and then assess whether or not you would like to continue with the title from there, or pick it up again later.
I cannot speak to the probate without having seen it, but a will need not specifically mention the properties in order for title to pass without an issue. As always, ownership is very fact specific, but what you describe does not seem too alarming or unsolvable, it just may take tenacity and money to fix.
Grandfather was Ernest L Reynoldsl d. 1991, he was survived by his wife Lena Oleta Hull, d. 1999. Most of the mineral rights/interests were in the Hull family. Great-grandfather was Elmer Lee Hull d.1937 survived by his wife DonieVirginia Robinson Hull d. 1980. I have found a lot of leases and deeds going back and forth deeds of conveyance, deeds of easments, etc…
Elmer was the son of Leonard Samuel Hull (usually signed docs (SL Hull his wife was Emma Agusta (Gussie) Smith Hull) and grandson of Samuel Smith Hull. I have found records of past land ownership for all of them.
As far as records go, I have copies from Texasfile of some old leases and deeds and I found records at the Texas Land Grant website of a couple of Land Patents in these relatives names. I also found affidavit of heirships for CJ Robinson in Howard County which would track into the Hull family through William Henry Robinson to his daughter Donie Robinson Hull.
I found Affidavits of Heirship for SL Hull and of course there is one on file for my Grandmother.
Thank you for whatever you can do I appreciate it.
Yes, that is exactly how I understand it to be. Inheritance according to STRIPES I think is what it’s called. The question we are wondering I guess is if it is worth it to pursue.
In my case, the lion’s share of the documentation was done by the company wanting to buy our rights. I had a friend that had been in the oil business for 40 years and sent him the info that the company sent me. He immediately found producing oil wells on the land and told me to call the producer to see if there were any monies in suspense. Sure enough, there was. My sister and 2 cousins sold before knowing what I found out and lost out on a significant sum of money. I hired an oil and gas attorney to handle everything and it was absolutely worth it for me as not only did I receive my 1/6th share of suspended money, but got paid a lease bonus, and get a check (not a huge amount) every month. I have fractional ownership. Howard County is so hot right now! I hope this helps.
I have identified at least 4 of the properties that they owned during their lifetimes as to County, Block, section etc. What I get lost in is following it into the next generations when it is not mentioned in a Will or there is no Will and no list of it on Probate records. So I don’t know if it’s been sold or if the current production companies just couldn’t find the heirs. So knowing I have that much information, is there a next step I can take on my own?
Property might not always be listed, as to all of one’s ownership, in a will or even in the inventory of a probated will. I have found that sometimes, back in the day, property could be left out of these documents possibly for tax purposes, but that any distribution of real property or residue of the estate would include things like this and would follow how the will has it laid out. As far as there being no will (dying intestate) there are common laws that determine the line of succession and how estates are to be distributed. http://www.supres.net/files/intestatetx.pdf Here is a paper that I found online that goes through how estates are distributed in the event of an absence of a will.
You can call and ask the production company if there are any monies in suspense for whatever their names are. If there is…then the work begins.
I may have missed some messages. It is also good to check the Texas unclaimed funds if you have not already. I checked it for our family names and didn’t find any lost oil money, but did get a small refund of an insurance payment that had been lost in the shuffle of a move.
If the operator has changed the money from the old operator (if any) may have been sent to the state.
This is a good point Judy_Jordan. Here is Texas site for unclaimed property. https://claimittexas.org/
Thank you Judy. I have already checked the claim it texas website. That is how we learned that not all the property had been distributed in the Will and when I started looking for where it could have come from I found all of these other properties.
And just a friendly fyi for anyone else checking…the site was redone a few years ago and now they do not list any unclaimed payments that are under 25.00. You have to request Texas to do a search for your funds. If you have a lot of small shares I suppose this can add up over decades.
I’ve been trying to get mineral rights money from the state of Oklahoma unclaimed property for 4 months They have death certificates of both parents birth certificates wills probate mineral titles and still won’t give me my money travelers. Good luck
Thanks. Yeah, that’s what I kind of expect to happen too with the state. Texas wants a current list of heirs with all of their signatures - tough to locate when you are talking more than a generation. I hope I will have more luck going at it from the other direction. Finding the producers and getting them to recognize the affidavit of heirship that is filed or whatever. Maybe I can at least get future shares to the legal heirs instead of the State.