How to determine back pay

Hi everyone! I am brand new here and have spent several days reading all kinds of things.

My siblings (2) and 3 cousins have mineral rights in Oklahoma that have been passed down from our grandfather and on down. Recently, ok about 3 years ago we learned of another lease. This has been a major pain trying to get this in all of our names on this lease. I think, with the help of an attorney we are pretty close to finalizing everything.

But this lease has not paid out (to us that is) since 1961. And of course this has gone through many, many companies. I know this is a long shot but is there any way to determine how much money we should be receiving? Many thanks for any info.

You're best bet is to consult a knowledgeable geologist or landman who has worked in close proximity to the lease. The production may have been pretty much depleted by now if, in fact, there ever was production. Also a check at the OCC online for that county/legal description can also be helpful. Most lawyers don't know anything about a specific area unless they have worked the area on other cases.

Thanks Sheri. We do know there was something as the state of OK is holding some for us - though they have not told us how much. Not sure if my siblings and cousins want to go that route or just take the money already there and run.

Depends on how many heirs and the amount in escrow.

6 heirs and no clue how much in escrow at this point. No one is telling us. the last time any of us are aware that it was paid out was in 1960 or 1961. We have already been going through the hassle of getting this into our names having to prove that my grandparents born in the 1800's have actually deceased!

But here is yet another question. We know the state of OK is holding money for us. Would that be the same as being held in escrow? We were all under the initial impression that it would be held in an actual escrow account with the energy company (or companies as the case here is).

Hi, Kendra -

Congratulations on you and your families inheritance. Be careful with it and remember that a whole lot of people worked very hard to get it down to you.

And don't let anyone buy it from you until you know a whole lot more about how all of this works. Most especially not until you have recovered any royalties owed you that are being held in suspense or the supposed Buyer might be buying your interests using your own money.

I am not an Attorney, and advise you to consult an experienced Oklahoma Oil and Gas Attorney for questions such as this and any other matters regarding your mineral or royalty interests, both now and in the future.

And I am not as familiar with Oklahoma Law as I am Texas', but from my experience if the royalties have been in suspense (non-pay status) because of an incomplete Probate or Inheritance matter, a bad address or any other reason, then once you have (or your Attorney has) completed your paperwork you will need to filed it of record in the appropriate County Clerk's Office(s).

Once you have done that, you will need to send certified copies of the paperwork to whatever company(ies) are presently disbursing the royalties. That will more than likely be the company(ies) currently operating the Well(s), but it may also be an arm's length party, such as an Accounting firm that handles that sort of thing or even a Pipeline Company that is buying all or some of the produced gas and disbursing it's own royalty checks.

Each of them will send you and your family a new set of Royalty Division Orders (RDOs or DOs). It may only be Transfer Orders (TOs) or something similar, but whatever it is once they have their paperwork straight they will release any royalties they are holding in suspense.

Whatever company(ies) you initially contact should be able to tell you whether your royalties were in suspense (non-payment mode) when they acquired the property(ies) and, possibly, from who or what company they acquired the property(ies). And, most importantly, whether if, when they acquired the property(ies) they received any of your royalties that had been held in suspense by the previous company.

If, like you say, there have been numerous Operators of the subject property(ies) since 1961, then you can research the records of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and / or the County Clerk's Office for each of the Counties involved to determine who owned the property(ies) when. That's known as a Working Interest Chain of Title (History of the ownership of the Lease(s) or Leasehold).

Then ask all of the companies you contact going back if they currently hold any of your suspended royalties.

Unless they passed them forward to the next succeeding company or turned them over to the State (which is required after a certain number of years), they will still have your royalties.

As soon as possible, you should research the State's Unclaimed Properties website under all of the possible names any royalties might have been under to see if they are holding any royalties for you. But be forewarned that after holding them for a certain number of years, the money goes to the State. Not the ownership of your mineral or royalty interests, although in some states you can lose them for various reasons, but the unclaimed royalties (monies).

As to how much in royalties your family is due, you would have to determine how much oil and gas (and possibly other products such as condensate and sulphur) were produced (actually, what was sold) over the years and how much they got for the products. If you could determine all of that, then you could multiply that by your decimal interests from your Royalty Division Order(s) to arrive at your royalties due.

You should be able to research the records of the OCC to determine total production figures for the Well(s), but because Oklahoma does not, to my knowledge, tax production you more than likely would not be able to determine what amount of oil and gas, etc. was actually sold (which is what your royalties are based upon - not what was produced) or how much they got for the products over the past 55 years.

How much they got for each load of oil trucked off and for each contract for gas, etc. over the past 55 years would be almost impossible to verify independently.

You need to also be forewarned that some of the companies may simply not exist anymore. Others may simply ignore you, hoping that you just go away or insist that you communicate with them through your Attorney.

You need to note that the first royalty checks you receive from any company(ies) that are holding monies in suspense for you may be quite large. I hope they are. But your subsequent checks will not be for anything close to the same amount.

And that you will owe at least Federal Income Tax on the royalty income. Possibly Oklahoma State or your own States' Income tax as well. So don't go spending it all until you've had time to do some planning.

If you or you and your Attorney would like to discuss your circumstances and issues in greater detail, accept my invitation to become A Friend on The Forum, which I will send you in a moment, where we can exchange personal contact information.

Hope this helps -

Charles Emery Tooke III

Certified Professional Landman

Fort Worth, Texas

PS: Pretty photo.

thanks Charles. this second lease (as we are calling it) sort of came out of no where. We had always known about one lease and that one was passed on down through the generations with basically no major problems. We always knew that this was not going to make any of us rich. In fact I have called it my "free money" as I can never count on it or know how much it will be.

But back in 2013 my sister and I received a letter indicating a second lease. Turned out our cousins had received the same letter the prior year but did nothing about it. We have been working with an attorney there in Oklahoma and all the paperwork has been done...such as probating my grandparent's wills, and such.

Right in the middle of getting all of the above accomplished our lease(s) were sold to a different energy company. both good news and bad. At least the customer service at the new company knew what that term mean and would talk to us (sort of) whereas the last company had terrible customer service. But the new company has told me that they did not receive any monies in escrow for the "second" lease. Bad news is that the current company is very close to bankruptcy (which apparently is not that unusual).

On our side we have my cousin who is in the financial industry so knows the right questions to ask and I am pretty much the investigator. I think we have all come to the conclusion that we will probably just stick with what the state gives us and not push it any further. I think I asked this more out of curiosity than anything else. It has been a huge learning experience for me to say the least.

One thing on our side is that my mother, while not a hoarder by any means, kept excellent records, as did her mother so we do have a great deal of history.

Thanks for your input and thanks for the compliment!


I'm glad to hear that your Mother and Grandmother kept good records. Not enough families do.

But you should reconsider going after any royalties in suspense with the earlier Operator. The early "flush" production from when a Well is completed and first brought on line is all but always it's best production. Unless they turned everything in suspense over to the State, that could be a fairly large sum of money to just walk away from.

And whenever you receive something about a new lease (2nd lease) you should look into it. If the mineral interests they are contacting you about is presently unleased and you do not lease to them, they can Force Pool you as Unleased Mineral Owners and hit you up for a 200% to 300% after Payout penalty before you see a dime.

There are clauses or provisions you can add to a lease regarding making the payment of royalties a lien against the company so that in case it goes into Bankruptcy you will be a Secured Creditor, but not many Mineral Owners are in the habit of adding it to their leases.

Even without such a clause or provision, however, if a company enters into Bankruptcy you should come up with a rough estimate of the royalties you might be owed and submit a claim as an Unsecured Creditor.


In Oklahoma, any funds ever placed in the Treasurer's Unclaimed Property Fund will still be there, at least for now. Who knows what the legislature will do in the future? It is not clear who has told you there are funds on deposit but sounds like you have already spoken with a staff member there, so you may already be aware of this link.

If your recently identified mineral interest has been pooled by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission in the last few years, there may be unpaid lease bonus held in the Mineral Owners Escrow Account (MOEA). Eventually, funds are moved to the Unclaimed Property Fund.

Notification of pooling application and final order is by certified mail. Mineral interest owners who cannot be located, or who do not respond within 20 days of the final order being signed by the Commission, are forced pooled at the lowest royalty/highest bonus among the options approved by the Commission. On this site, the amount is shown with a link to the final order which is the source.

When searching be sure to check all name variations, including initials, of family members who owned (or may have owned) property in the state. In my experience, this is especially true with the MOEA search.

Thank you Wesley. Yes, the unclaimed property is being held in my grandfathers name - which I would never have thought of looking for. Now I have a list of names that I am using when ever and where ever I search for anything. Thanks for the link to the MOEA. Had not seen this one before.

Kendra: The state of Oklahoma withholds an amount to pay the taxes on any ones production received. I have to pay it every year. If you are a non resident like me you file a nonresident tax form, but you get back any overage they have withheld. That could be what they are holding for you. In order for them to do that they would have to know how much was held from any oil and gas pay checks and they would have to have a copy of your Federal Tax Return as there is a certain percentage you pay base on your total income. I do not believe this last part on the Federal tax form percentage is legal. To me it is double taxation. Up until the past two years they did not charge any percentage of taxes based on your Federal Tax Return just the amount you received in Oklahoma, like I believe it should be. However, if you have not reported any tax withheld from any checks you have received it is not likely to be from that. Anything further you would like to know please ask away. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission OCC Royalty Owner's Workshop is held every year. This past year it was in Cape Coral Florida, which I attended. This year on September 24th it will be held in Oklahoma City at the downtown Sheraton Hotel. This is a great place to meet other Royalty Owners and discuss Oklahoma Royalties. I will be going this year also. They have several great speakers, including a Oil and Gas Attorney from Oklahoma. I highly recommend it. If you are interested contact Donna Darnell at OCC. It was only $300.00 last year. and well worth it.

federal Tax return

Thanks John but since none of us have received anything since 1961 I doubt it would be withholdings. but good information. thanks.

so I did find some money in the MOEA search. Am not sure if it is what the state has told us they are holding or if this is something new. It did show that it has been pooled which actually rather irritates me now that I know what that means. All of the various energy companies these two leases have gone through (apparently) have all had at least my sisters and my cousins addresses. Yet it was only recently (after the pooling) that they notified us of the second lease that we were totally unaware of. Ugh...seems like a case of the more you know...

yea, you know what I mean.

Oh yes, we knew absolutely nothing about this second lease. Nor, from correspondence we have, did my mother or grandmother know about it. And yes, Charles, we did immediately begin work to get the title in our name, etc as soon as we received notification.

From the information received from Wesley (below) I do believe that the lease has already been pooled.

LOL...I'm starting to sound as though i know what I'm talking about!

I wish I had 55 years of suspended royalties coming my way...

Kendra, for anyone wanting/needing to know more about mineral management, there is an organization that is worth consideration. Like yourself and most other mineral owners, my wife and I found ourselves inheriting, with little useful knowledge of our rights and responsibilities. Someone told us to check out the National Association of Royalty Owners . We have attended our state convention each year and continue to learn.

A speaker at one of our first meetings presented the 5 M’s of mineral ownership “Managed Minerals Means More Money!”. I thought of sharing this additional post to your discussion when I saw that George Wilson is scheduled for the upcoming OK-NARO meeting in Tulsa, April 27-29. Here are some additional links.

- March issue of NARO national publication

- Most recent Oklahoma Chapter newsletter

- Ok Corp Commission publication “Basic Information for the Oklahoma Royalty Owner” . OCC staff present at the OK-NARO meeting on “Navigating the OCC Website”

- Ok Tax Commission Gross Production (among other things, find info about recent production on individual wells - until you know more, search by legal)

While this is short notice for the April convention, the early-bird registration is open until April 15, and special rate for the hotel is open until the 12th.

I hope you find some of this information helpful.

Kendra/Wesley: The NARO and the Oklahoma chapter are an excellent source of Oil and Gas information. However you have to be a member and pay a fee to do so which is fairly steep. I get their newsletter and have found it very interesting. Also, their yearly Convention also carries a hefty charge.

I have found that the OCC yearly Workshops are just as good, if not better and a darn site cheeper. However, if you can I would recommend attending both. The Workshop, as I have identified above for this year is at the Oklahoma City Sheraton Hotel on September 24th. I will be there

My family has a similar situation. I had a landman research and he found that we had the minerals and that we needed to contact the operator of the well. I did and he said that he knew that we should be receiving the royalties but that it would cost him too much to change it. Years ago, my mother was told that she had royalty money being held for her...this was from her allotment of Indian Land in OK. I have tried to find it without any success. I have the old, old leases and a trail of companies that have been making money off of the wells up to today.

Hi, Mary -

Send us what you have and somebody around here can maybe help you out.

I've never heard of it costing an operator too much to straighten out the title. Perhaps the interest is too small? Or he could be leaving it up to you to "cure" the title.

Charles Emery Tooke III

Certified Professional Landman

Fort Worth, Texas

Mary, that just doesn't seem right to me. Now keep in mind that I am a pure newbie in this area but I wonder of the dept of Indian Affairs (is it still called that??) might be of any help to you?