Inheriting Mineral Rights, Trouble Understanding Splits

Hi, I’m looking for help gaining a general understanding of how title of mineral rights are split upon inheritance as well as how a surviving spouse’s life stake is handled transactionally.

Question 1) If the mineral rights that my father inherited are to be split between three siblings upon his death (he has passed), are these equal undivided shares, deeded? How are the represented in documents and how does an oil company pay royalties to each party separately for current and future wells? Same question for how this applies to minerals that are currently under a lease?

Question 2) If a surviving spouse is to receive a 1/3 life interest in the royalties from the mineral rights that are to be awarded as equal undivided shares amongst three surviving children, how is this paid to the surviving spouse? Is each sibling required to pay out a check to the surviving spouse, is it held in some type of escrow account?


Answers depend on the exact terms of the probated will. Deeds will be issued out of the estate on the order of the probate court. Your estate attorney will work with the executor(s) to get things done correctly, depending in the state(s) where minerals are located, and may need to oil and gas attorney in that state. Royalty income will be taxed to individual recipient, including the life estate beneficiary or a trust.

As TennisDaze has indicated, the attorney for the estate will prepare the appropriate mineral deeds according to the will and then file those in the deed records and the oil companies will pay according to the mineral ownership shown in those deeds. You did not indicate whether or not there was a will and whether the will was or will be probated. If there is no will or if there’s a will but it has not been and will not be probated, you will need to follow another procedure to make sure the mineral interests are titled according to the intestacy law of the state where the minerals are located. These procedures include an affidavit of heirship, a court order allowing filing of the will as a muniment of title, or other procedures. You will need to consult with an attorney to determine which procedure is the appropriate one for you. Either way, each beneficiary will get a separate check according to their percentage ownership of the mineral interest.

The process varies according to the state where the minerals are located. Visiting with an attorney there can help.