Royalty interest fraudulently taken by another party

A couple of years ago I started looking into the oil well royalties I had heard our family supposedly received. My grandmother last received payments in the early 80s before she passed in 1982. The RI was supposed to pass to my grandfather. ARCO sent him a division order with his name and address printed and he signed it and it was returned to ARCO with a letter from our family attorney. The attorney spoke with someone in the office who confirmed checks would thenceforth come to my grandfather. Fast-forward to 2018, we have never seen a single payment. Upon investigating, I find that my grandmother’s name was still on the gatherer’s paydeck through 2011, the gatherer at the time. She was listed as an owner in the Cooke County TX assessor’s office and also in the appraisal company records. They provided me with a database printout showing my grandmother was deleted as owner and another person, with the same first and middle names but different last name, was added as owner. There’s nothing in the public record showing conveyance. She is not a descendant of my grandmother nor any other family relation. Four months after this change occurred, the existing gatherer merged into another company, not sure if this is relevant or not. But I emphasize, the names of the two individuals are the same except for the last name, and they aren’t exactly common names. I spoke with a local landman who’s opinion is that there was fraud involved, but a full mineral title abstract would need to be completed to determine in whose name title currently resides. Does anybody have any suggestions about what might have happened and how I can get this resolved without going into debt for thousands of dollars?

You will need to seek the advice of a lawyer to get this resolved. This forum can give you general advice, but it won’t get fixed until you seek legal counsel.

Thanks Tim. That’s what I was afraid of. Just trying to make sure that is in fact the only option and that I’m correct in my assessment so far. Have any suggestions on how to not spend a fortune on legal counsel?

Its a little premature to determine if you will spend a fortune. There may be nothing you can do. The other owners may give up easily. I wouldn’t prejudge your matter until you consult with someone.