First of all, I want to say thank you all so much for the help I received here last year when I had questions and difficulties with some issues relating to the properties that I have inherited interests in.
It recently came to my attention that some royalties from some of the properties that I inherited from my father were scheduled to be turned over to the California State Controller's office in May of this year.
The company holding the royalties is Plains Marketing. I find this whole situation odd because I had signed and returned division orders a few years ago to Plains for multiple properties. At least one of the properties appears to be on an earlier division order, but for some reason they did not pay me back royalties for a certain period of time (approximatley one year) when they paid me all the other back royalties that I was owed. Also, there are additional properties that were never included with the original division orders that I signed a few years ago.
I was told by two analysts at Plains that I would receive a certain amount of money (minus severance fees). My account in their owner relations system shows that they issued me a check (however it appears that it was never mailed), and nearly 20% of the money is missing. I inquired as to why there was such a discrepancy, and I have been completely ignored.
Also, since it was clearly a mistake on the Division Order Analyst's part for not including these properties when transferring ownership from my father's estate, should I not receive some additional percentage for late payment?
As always, any help or insights into this matter and what I can do would be greatly appreciated.
First of all, what state are you referring to? The company has a duty to research certain information in the county/parish the mineral interest is located. They can fulfill their duties and still not find you. For instance, if you have leases or mineral rights in a particular county/parish with an old address, all they will do is mail the documents to that address. So, if you moved and did not record or notify that particular company about the new address, they would have fulfilled the obligation.
I actually use a mailing service at a company that has been around for quite some time. That way If I move, all of my mail would be directed to them and I can get the mail service to forward any documents to me if I am no longer living in the area.
Tell you the truth, a great deal of money is held by the companies for royalty owners that do not do not know that they have an interest in minerals. I find individuals who are owed this money and retain a percentage. I have found others that do this for up to 50%. My percentage ranges from 3-10% depending on the amount due and the amount of people who are involved. If someone ever contacts you about unpaid royalties make sure that they do so at a small percentage and that the agreement you sign makes the person/company pays all of the fees. I know that I have taken a loss for a few years on some interests recovered, but making someone pay fees and a percentage is not right because the whole point is to get the mineral/royalty owner the money they deserve.
These particular properties are located in Louisiana and Texas.
I have not moved, so it is not like they cannot find me. They already have my address, social security number, and all the appropriate documentation from my father's estate. In fact, they have been sending me checks over the last few years for other properties that I have interest in, and I have an owner id in their system.
I have an attorney who has been dealing with this for the last eight years, and even he is astounded at the incompetence and lack of communication from the oil companies that we have had to deal with.
Are these royalties on different wells with the same operator? If so, then the landman and title attorney would not be looking in the internal operator system. They would just be using the most recent royalty recordings for the particular property. If documents have been recorded for section 12 in Blank County, Texas and you are being paid on those royalties that is great. The recorded documents for that particular section were from 1975 and all address changes have been made through change of address forms internally with the company. That same document might refer to section 10 which the operator did not lease in the prior lease. So the next landman does the required research with an address from 1975. He sends out leases/attempts to find a person with a common name. The mail is returned and further attempts are made to find the owner. If the interest in the well is small, he will not have to find you because he has found a high enough percentage of lessors and is able to drill the well(s). Some landmen will go the extra mile and some will not.
The royalties are on different wells with different operators. Some are inactive.
Everything was in my father's name, and he lived at the same address for 45 years. My brother, who is trustee for his estate, has lived at that very same address for 55 years. I really do not feel that anyone should have had even the slightest difficulty finding us!
I received a duplicate request to sign an Amended Declaration of Interest for an inactive property in the mail yesterday. It seems like all I am doing is shuffling papers with Plains Marketing. Also, they still have not responded to any of my inquiries. They have been, by far, the worst company I have had to deal with in the last few years. Fortunately, these properties, if there is anything that is still producing, are being handled by a different company now.
Oddly enough, I received a small back payment from Exxon Mobile this week. The check just appeared in the mail box. No need to sign and shuffle papers. I am glad for that, but it sure took them a really long time to issue payment to my brother and me. My father passed away ten years ago this year.
One other thing I should add - Plains Marketing has already turned over some royalties to the California State Controller's office. I cannot claim them because the Controller is asking for documents that I simply do not have (the process in California is truly overkill as far as documentation needed). Some of these royalties have been sitting out there for at least ten years, perhaps longer. I only became aware of the unclaimed property ten years ago.