ISO attorney to do quiet title for inheritance from Grandmother

My brother, sister and I received letters from regarding mineral interests in Lea County that belonged to our grandmother who died in 1960. None of us live in New Mexico. The letter relates to compulsory pooling as a company is planning to drill one or two wells in the acreage in question. Our mother apparently was receiving some royalties for awhile. She died in 1991. There are no other living heirs. No one lived in New Mexico. My grandmother was from neighboring Oklahoma. The letter we received from COG Operating LLC indicates that we would not be able to receive any monies related to these wills unless titles are in our names.

Can anyone recommend an attorney who would be able to accomplish this for a reasonable fee? We have very little documentation other than my mother’s will which was very generic and did not mention mineral interests. I greatly appreciate any advice and suggestions. Thank you in advance.

You can observe qualified professionals (often with localized expertise) who provide services to mineral owners in our Mineral Service Provider Directory. These practitioners are often able to provide the specific services that meet your needs.

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A related question is whether an attorney working to establish a New Mexico title for this inheritance needs to be practicing in New Mexico and what cost and time frame might be involved? The landman who contacted us (apparently working for Concho) has already determined that we are the only living heirs. Again thank you and apologies for my lack of knowledge.

As to the first question, while a landman can certainly opine as to who will own the minerals, in all likelihood, you will need a New Mexico probate. Yes, any attorney doing work on a New Mexico case needs to be licensed in New Mexico.

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Snowbird I would think with a little leg work and google you could do this on your own, personal opinion. when our mother died we had to do some filings with county clerk of course im sure you have some money owed for the last years of production many people on this forum are willing to help. Good Luck!

While the actual transfer of title will likely need to be done with the help of an attorney, I suggest asking the contact at Concho for the information he pulled together. We always ask the Landman or Operator/Leasee for any and all documentation they have for our files. They more often than not will send you copies that helps circumvent some of the leg work you might have to do later on.

Good luck!

Tim, Thank you for the suggestions. I will definitely do some more digging. Nancy

BP11, Thank you so much for this suggestion. I did not think of asking the Landman (actually a Land"woman" in this case). Even if I have to pay for copies, it will be worth it.

Hey, Snowbird!

If your Grandmother’s and Mother’s Wills were probated, all you should have to do to clear title into yourselves is obtain certified copies of those papers and file them in the County Clerk’s Real Property Records in Lea County, then obtain certified copies of those filings and send them over to COG.

If their Wills were not probated, you may be able to use a simple Affidavit of Heirship.

The Attorneys listed in the MRF’s Directory are all quite qualified and experienced, but I don’t know if they are licensed in NM. If not, I know of one that is that will be happy to help.

Hope this helps!

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@Charles_Emery_Tooke_III feel free to list here the attorney’s name (only) that you refer to above.

New Mexico requires ancillary probate, rather similar to Oklahoma. If that is not possible, then the attorney can guide you as to what your alternative process is. It is possible that simply filing probate from another state in NM records might be accepted by an oil company landman. However, in my experience, a law firm issuing a drilling title opinion will only clear title which complies with NM title law.

Mr. Tooke, Thank you for the suggestions. I am not sure about whether probate took place particularly for my Grandmother who was an Oklahoma lady with very little in the way of assets but will look into it. If you feel comfortable naming him/her, I would greatly appreciate your naming a N.M. lawyer qualified to handle this, particularly if they would offer a no-commitment initial consultation. I see that some of the professionals listed her for Texas do that.

The Attorney I was going to suggest is Josh Stein in Houston TX. He is representing a family that I know in their efforts to recover some unpaid royalties.

Thank you for this recommendation. I hope he was successful. I guess I was thinking that the attorney had to be in New Mexico to file there. I need to make some inquiries to see what type of charges are involved.

We have been digging through old family papers and found that our aunt, now deceased, had filled a Proof of Death and Heirship in Lea County In 1973. It bearS the stamp and name of the County Clerk at that time. It also identifies our mother, aunt and uncle as the sole heirs. It shows that both my grandmother and grandpa died without probate in Oklahoma. Yet when we spoke to an attorney about why the title was apparently still in our grandmother’s name, he said that probate in New Mexico was required for title. Looks like we face a long and expensive process to get clear title since only my Aunt’s estate was probated (in Oregon). Hopefully worth it for 5 net mineral acres in a good location.
Any reactions from forum members? Not that we have received letter about pooling hearing, it seems a new well here is imminent. Appreciate any advice. Is there any way to know how much in the way of uncollected royalty might be held in suspense? Thanks again. I appreciate this forum so much!

My wife and I have been doing the research from my families mineral rights, who not only lived in Oklahoma, but also homesteaded New Mexico back in 1913 & 1915.

We have been researching what happened. We have spent a bunch of time in the Title company that is across the street from the Lea County courthouse (they just finished their new courthouse, across the street to the east but I can’t say whether or non in use yet).

I can give you TWO New Mexico attorneys to avoid but I won’t post their names here.

We used both of them and long story short we are on our third attorney. First one stole from us. The second one went from doing exactly what we asked to doing NOTHING that we asked, just went his own way.

NOW we are using a really great attorney here in San Angelo, Texas and she is licensed in the state of New Mexico.

Our claim is pretty complex, as the whole family involved were seven children (all long dead) that had approximately 840 acres owned. Back in 1948 they did a quiet title suit in Lea county to bring all the property/mineral rights back under the family name.

But that was 72 years ago. We are doing another quite title suit to clarify in current day mineral rights we still own.

We’ve been doing this, hit and miss since I retired back in 2013 and the wife joined me in research once she retired in 2016. We spent hours and hours at the Title company and the County Court house (look up info at Title Company - take that information over to the court house records department and you can get copies of EVERYTHING associated with your property).

We did an ABSTRACT that cost us about $2k on one of the parcels we owned and while it showed SOME of the info, they missed a lot.

It’s why my wife and I did a thorough search - and got all the info we needed, plus numerous leases signed over the years and by whom. But after starting this process, we are now approaching the end of the road. HOPEFULLY it’s all cleared up in the next couple of months by the judge telling us how many mineral rights the family owns and our part of that.

It’s not been cheap (HEY, two attorneys not doing their job cost us over $22k) and several years spent doing our research with lots of time back and forth from San Angelo to Hobbs (four hour drive) and then hours and hours of time spent looking at the Title company books and the County Court house records.

But hopefully we will get this all straightened out in the next few months and have the Lea County court give us their ruling on exactly what we own.

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JRW, What a nightmare! I admire your persistence and hope that indeed the end is near and this will be profitable and worth all the time and work. Is there any recourse against the lawyers who have not followed through on the work they were contracted to do?

We have been getting referrals from trusted friends of friends and are leaning toward a well regarded firm in Midland Texas that also has standing in New Mexico. The lawyer recommended to us spent close to an hour on the phone with me at no charge hearing what information and paperwork we had and explaining the complexity and incongruity of New Mexico requirements for title. He also said we might consider selling as is without clean title but our price would probably not be very good. He says there are many people in our situation and it can cost $10-$15 thousand to go through the hoops of required probates, make sure there are no other individuals with standing, etc. I can see how costs add up when they charge $300/hour!! We certainly are not in a position to put in the work you did and are not located close enough to travel back and forth. Still pondering the cost/benefit ratio of going with the pros. Based on your experience -and THANK YOU for sharing- we would make sure any contract we sign really spells out what they are to do and a timeline.

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