Proof of Ownership - What to File

I own interest in multiple counties in Texas, almost all inherited from my mother’s dad. Recently, I had to use an attorney to get into pay status for a new well in one of them, and he told me that the main problem had been that the interest was still in my grandfather’s name. He advised that for each county where I own, or potentially own, interests, I should file copies of the wills for my grandfather, grandmother, and mother, as well as a copy of a statewide mineral gift deed she executed giving all of her interests to my brother and myself in equal shares. My questions are these:

  1. From a landman’s perspective, should the wills and probate orders be filed in each county’s deed records or probate records? This is assuming a county other than the one in which a particular will was probated.

  2. For the counties in which a will was probated, would a landman automatically check the probate records as well as the deed records, or should I file a separate copy in the latter as well? Or would the county do that automatically?

For what it’s worth, the attorney I used shared with me a copy of the title opinion that was done on the tracts in question, and it specifically mentioned the need to file copies of the wills and probate orders in that county.

Thanks for your feedback.

Were they all residents of Texas? If so, then you can get certified copies from the county their estates were probated in and record those in the deed records of the Texas counties they owned minerals. You will need the Application for Probate, Order Admitting Probate, Letters Testamentary, Will and any Codicils, and the Order Completing Probate (specific titles of the aforementioned documents may be slightly different). You can also file a certified copy of the deed in each county as well.

  1. The Wills should be filed in the Conveyance/Deed Records. Probate records are techinically civil records and you wouldn’t be able to file anthing there unless you opened a new suit.
  2. Yes, a landman should check the probate records but it is always a good idea to file a copy of the Will in the Conveyance/Deed records as well.

As stated already you should file certified copies of the Probate documents for your grandfather, grandmother and mother, and a certified copy of the gift deed from your mother in each county. You can also file an affidavit with you and your brothers current contact information in each county so you are easy to find.

Thanks for that very helpful information. We are obtaining the certified copies of the probate records, gift deed, etc., and are filing them in all the appropriate counties that don’t already have them. From talking to several county clerks, it sounded like those would all go in the deed records, but my brother, who is doing some of he legwork, went to one nearby county, and the clerk there, or rather her assistant, seemed to want to file the wills in the probate records, despite the fact that none of the people involved had their wills probated in that county, so I wanted to double-check.

As for filing a copy of a probate record in the deed records of a county where that will was probated, we will definitely consider doing this. However, the cost involved in backfilling these documents in 11+ counties is considerable, so we may wait on that for the time being.

I understand the hassle of filing everywhere as we have had to do it. However… since you are the knowledgeable one and have all the documents, now would be a good time to do it and get it done and over with. If you have non-producing minerals, this is how future land men will find you for offers if they are interested. Consider it an investment in the future for your heirs. If you have producing minerals, then contact all the operators to get into pay status and also make sure that the county appraisers in each county have your correct address. You do not want the minerals to be sold in a sheriff’s sale because they cannot find you and there are delinquent taxes.