Our uncle died in 1986 in OK without a will or probate and no spouse or children. He was survived by two sisters (our mother and aunt). Both are now passed.
We are looking to claim inheritance of his small share of mineral rights in Lea County, NM as part of a quiet title.
We were told that an Affidavit of Heirship needs to be filed in Lea County. Is there a particular form that is required and if so, where can I download this? Can the whole thing be done over the internet ourselves or do we need a lawyer?
We have two distant relatives who knew him and they are willing to sign the affidavit. My brother, sister and I know that we are his only living heirs.
Thanks for any suggestions.
You should consult with a NM attorney to find out if an affidavit of heirship will solve the problem. Because your mother and aunt both survived the named decedent, you have 3 estates rather than just 1 to deal with.
Thank you. I should have indicated that we are working with an attorney (in Texas with standing in NM) who has already dealt with the estates of our mother and aunt in the work on quiet title. It has cost us over $8,000 so far. When he said we need this affidavit for my uncle, I am hoping it would be something I could do without attorney billing for it too.
First off, you will need to do this in OK FIRST. Then once that has been done, you need to file the paperwork in OK to Lea County. Yes it will take an attorney.
We’ve been on this road for at least 8 years. Lots of mineral rights had to be found - we’ve spent months (aggregate time) in the title company across the street from the Lea County courthouse in Lovington (old courthouse that holds all the court records) in the past eight years. And similar time looking up the records from the Title company in the county court house records. Lots of time doing the research.
Then you WILL need an attorney licensed to practice in New Mexico. We’ve had two NM attorneys IN NM and one that is licensed in NM but is here in Texas. LONG STORY SHORT, after eight years, three attorneys and a bunch of money we are ALMOST to the point when the judge tells us what all this means to us.
But my family homesteaded 820 acres Lea County back in 1913/1915. The did a quiet title suit back in 1948. THEN SOLD THE LAND but kept the minerals (thank you relatives). Since that time, some of it has been given away (sold cheaply to friends).
But you will need an attorney to file pretty much anything in the Lea County courts. That is just the way this works. If you want your mineral rights in your name you will need an attorney.
Actually, probably two, one attorney in OK and one attorney in NM to file the documents IN NM.
And that is where the Affidavit of Heirship comes into play. Having said that, you could file that your uncle died Intestate (NO WILL) and then file the Affidavit of Heirship. First in OK, then in NM.
How many mineral rights do you think you own? And what part of Lea County are the in?
san angelo, tx
Thanks for this information. I wasn’t thinking about Oklahoma as well. If all goes well, we will only have marketable title to about 4.4 net mineral acres in Section 4, lots 1 and 2, T25 S, R35 E. Hopefully it will be worth all the lawyer fees and time involved.
If the decedent in question died intestate, the law of descent and distribution of the state in which which the minerals are located rather than such decedent’s domicile would determine who would be the heirs. If an intestate decedent owned minerals in more than one state and an affidavit of heirship is effective in each state, the affidavit of heirship for each state must comply with the legal requirements of such state. In the situation under discussion involving an intestate estate, action in NM may be taken without completing OK first. However, if the decedent in question had died testate and domiciled in OK, the usual procedure would have been to handle OK first in a domiciliary administration and then to move on to NW in an ancillary administration.
Thank you! I appreciate very much.
Welcome to the world of mineral ownership. There is a lot of information on this website to help guide you. First of all, ConocoPhillips (formerly COG) is preparing to drill multiple horizontal wells across these lands - they recently drilled the W/2 of the section. Are the minerals leased? Have you received an offer or notice of force pooling from COG?
When it comes to getting the minerals in your name, as a New Mexico attorney and a mineral owner myself, I can tell you that you have options. You can simply see what the operator (Conoco) will require. Just obtaining and recording an affidavit of heirship is easy and can be done without a lawyer. There are a number of forms online. Sometimes an operator will rely on them. If they won’t, as noted above, you may have to probate and distribute three estates. If an estate has already been probated in another state and if the appointed personal representative is still around, you can do a simpler procedure to authenticate the foreign appointment (NM attorney required) and then have that person execute a deed in New Mexico. If the estate has not been probated in any state and this is the only asset you are concerned with, you can skip probating the estate elsewhere and probate it directly in New Mexico (NM attorney required). Of course, you may want the guidance of a New Mexico attorney to help you sort all this out or at least a mineral consultant with experience in curing title.
As I mentioned in a previous thread, you may have been force-pooled, meaning your royalty is locked at 1/8th for the current (and likely only) development that will happen: Conoconcho’s Fez wells. I would be reaching out to ConocoPhillips and trying to argue that you never received notice and would like to lease. My previous advice was go at a non-op group for a lease and see if they’ll do all of this on your behalf. The operator has no incentive to work with you if they’re holding a pooling order with your relative’s “estate of” listed. Title curative work would have likely been done automatically as part of the leasing process. I only mention this now as a cautionary tale to others; even still, should be pretty good over the life of the wells, even at an 1/8th.
Thank you. Sadly, we had no idea what the consequences would be vis a vis a lease. We had to sign when they sent pooling order notice with a month to respond and all the procedures involved were foreign. On top of that, the pandemic! Cautionary tale to others for sure.
Suggest first you speak to division order analyst at the lessee operator company. Some operators don’t want to rely on affidavits of heirship (AoH) until after five years recorded in land records, they don’t want to pay royalties then get sued by an indignant relative.
I’ve been involved in three AoH, all three “prepared” by lawyers and recorded by lawyers. First time, I paid $1,000 for AoH, although 99% of the language in the document was written by me, part of the expense was we attached a bunch of probated documents and counties charge by the page. Don’t know what we paid for the other two AoH because we had a multifaceted legal service and I didn’t try to itemize the AoH charges, but they were simple probably much less than $1,000.
We only filed the three AoH in the county of the minerals, did not bother to file AoH in states of residence.
There are stories of crude, homemade AoH scribbled by hand with bad grammar, yet successful. Probably best to hire an attorney.
Even if you have a good attorney, suggest you carefully outline the full title chain with all details, birth & death dates, spouse names, courthouse references to probated wills, death certificate for intestate deaths. Lawyers are human and make mistakes.
My basic problem is that there is no one to speak with at Chisolm in Tulsa, at least that will return my phone messages. There are no ownership questions, just timely disbursement of revenue. I am following the advice to send a registered letter with return receipt to get to the bottom of my problem.
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