I just found out, that for 40 years my royalty checks were being sent to the wrong person

My dad left me producing mineral deeds when he died in 1978, I just found out that he had left them to me. they were in a trust and the deeds were not conveyed until 1998. so thats 20 years of royalty checks that were going to my dead dad that my mother was cashing.

in `1998 the papers were sent to the proper counties, but not to the operators. so to sum it up, I did not find out about this till last year. dont the operators have to do a title check.... do I have any recourse? my moms dead, so is there in way to recoup the losses.

everyone is saying tough luck..... she died in 2007, and my sister maintained the deciet

You'll want to check your lease(s) to be certain, but most leases provide that a change in ownership is not binding on the Lessee until 30 days after having been furnished a certified copy of the recorded instrument or instruments evidencing the change in ownership. Sample language from a Pound 4-76 lease form appears below (and this language may vary from lease to lease):

"...and no change or division in such ownership shall be binding on Lessee until thirty (30) days after Lessee shall have been furnished by registered U.S. mail at Lessor's principal place of business with a certified copy of recorded instrument or instruments evidencing same."

You probably don't have any recourse against the operator. As to whether you may have any recourse against other family members who may not have been forthcoming with useful information...you'll want to talk to an attorney about that.


Assuming production royalties were paid on a well drilled after 1978, the operator found the trust and paid the trust. Perhaps it was a life trust set up for your Mother. In that case your deed doesn't generate income until your mother dies. It is up to you, as the owner, to contact the producer. You will need to prove your rights with recorded documents and your mom's death certificate.

Gary L Hutchinson

Minerals Managment

In 1974 the deeds were placed in the Jon Doe land trust. My dad died in 1979. The deeds at time of death were split 50/50 with the wife and siblings. The split was never executed till 1998. In 1998 the conveyance was sent to the various counties to execute.

From 1979 to 1998 the checks were made out to "Jon doe", my mom put them into the joint checking acct and cashed them. After 1998 they went into the trust account and were cashed by my mom who was the executrix. In 2015 I discovered the mess. The amount is well over $1,000,000.

My mom died in 2007, and my sister continued the fraud until last year.

I was told that since its been 1 year, I am out of luck

What is the statute of limitations on large theft? On mail fraud? I don't know. Do they start when you

find out or when the theft happened?

Answer depends on wording of will and trust. Were you and your sister minors in 1978 and did your mother use the royalties for your expenses including education? Does trust provide that income was to be used for your mother's support and needs first and only remainder for other beneficaries. Has trust terminated or still going? Is your sister sole trustee? How is income to be paid after your mother's death? Have you asked your sister for an accounting, including tax returns and bank statements? You should consult an attorney with all the paperwork that you have, including the trust document, willls, deeds, etc. Attorney can then determine what other information is needed and how to proceed.

Sounds like this is a diverse issue. You would need to get copies of all the paperwork from your Father to current time. Put them in date order, reading each one carefully to see if you can make any better sense of this matter. Otherwise you will need to consult with an Attorney. An Attorney will be cheaper to work with if you get all of your paperwork up front for them to look at. Also this will depend on how much was paid. Are you looking at amounts o $1500.00 or $150,000.00 of missed royalties? Easy and quick up front is getting you setup to currently start getting paid. What happened in the past you can work on after you get setup. Get setup to get paid first. More than likely if there is a "problem" or someone overlooked the "oil company" might be better able to explain it to you when you turn in the paperwork to get setup. Meaning they could see something in your paperwork that maybe you didn't notice or understand and they will probably point that out. They could also give you a better estimate on the past royalty amounts. Maybe...if the person you are working with likes their job and isn't a hard nose!


You have been given excellent advice. I would suggest for you to also consider having a consultation with an attorney who specializes in the oil/gas royalties area to see if he/she would be able to assist you before or after you have gathered the information you are beginning to put together.

Thanks. I appreciate the wise words.

The discovery rule should apply. In my opinion, not a lawyer, you are within the big statute, 40 years.

They stole from you. Your sister could be looking at jail time. If you are okay with that, then you have decide if she has enough assets to cover what she owes you.

The counties have liability here, at least that is what I was told, in writing, by the of the Energen's.

You could gather your facts, explain her liability, and offer to let her off if she deeds all over to you.

Only if this is fair. Obviously, if she is an impoverished single mother, uneducated, and you are a wealthy banker, you might want to let it go, call it your contribution to society. What a mess, sorry about it, I keep hearing these stories, similar to mine. One is supposed to trust family. Yet why? Old Testament warns us, right!