Tracking Down Proof of Ownership for Probate

We are in the process of starting ancillary probate process in Pottawatomie Co. for my deceased father’s estate. We have some deeds and old oil and gas leases (paid-up) that we found in his files. I’m trying to verify that he still owned the interests referenced in four of the old oil and gas leases (not really very old, dates range 2007-2013). The Lessee companies have not been responsive.

We asked the county clerk to search the county records, but they didn’t find any mineral deeds in his name for these, and they said they don’t research mineral rights. Frankly, I don’t know if our father had mineral rights or deeds for these, however, we do have mineral deeds for other properties.
The mineral interest locations we’re researching are:

Pottawatomie Co, OK Twnshp Rnge Sec Half Quarter 6N 2E 11 SESE 6N 2E 15 E SW 6N 2E 22 NWSW 6N 2E 30 NE

Any suggestions on what else I can do to verify whether we have mineral deeds, mineral rights, royalty rights, etc for these? Thank you

Condolences on the recent loss of your father. There is a website for pottawatomie county records that goes back to 1985. You might be able to find some clues searching there. It is usually easier to search by names than by locations. You could also hire a landman to search the records for you. If there are leases, there are most likely mineral deeds back in the records… although you may have to go back many years to find them.

The attorney doing the probate should be able to help you track that information down or in the alternative have a referral for a landman. A landman would be a lot more economical than having your attorney do it. Is there any current production? If so, the operator would have already done all of the hard work and would know what your father owned. It is easiest to start there if there is current production. The Lessee company would more than likely be someone different than the operator.

Thank you for your response. Yes, I’m hoping to be a little more economical than having the attorney spend time researching it. I’ve considered a landman as well, but wanted to see what research I can do myself. I live out of state, so am limited to internet, emails and phone calls. I’ve been researching operators too, but I don’t think there’s much, if any, production going on. Just wanting to be thorough in the probate.

Thank you. Yes, I’ve used for a lot of our research. They had the leases, but since their database doesn’t go back before 1985, they didn’t have the mineral deeds. This is the site to find wells.

Gross Production This is the site for production.

6N 2E 11 SESE Wells- Hog Creek 1-11, 2-11 drilled 2011 (operator was West Star Operating Co), Operator listed as Eagle Road Oil LLC as of 2016. Now plugged 2019. Look up the Form 1003 and 1073 to find the Operator contact info. 640 ac spacing.There were two older wells called Dawson 1 and Porky 1 also P&A

6N 2E 15 E SW Was leasing in your time frame by West Star Operating.

6N 2E 22 NWSW Was leasing in your time frame by mostly West Star Operating. Old wells last production was in 1996

6N 2E 30 NE There are two wells still in production Cities Service 1-A and Cities Service 1-30. They were sold to Staghorn Petroleum II LLC in October 2020. Not sure of their spacing. Was leasing in your time frame by mostly West Star Operating.

Another avenue you may want to explore is a search for your father’s parent’s probates if any. For Pottawatomie County you may try this link: Case Search and Here

Good luck.

Thank you M_Barnes. I’ve tried tracking down Eagle Road Oil LLC before because it appeared the well status was ‘Active,’ but showing no production. Thank you for the P&A info.

Sunfish, I have also had good luck contacting local title companies who have access to the county records to do some searching for usually a very nominal fee.

Thank you, Richard. I hadn’t come across these websites in my research.

Thank you, PeteR, I hadn’t thought of that. That’s not a bad idea since I’m mainly trying to track down proof of ownership for the mineral interests for which I have old leases, but not copies of the mineral deeds.

Another related question, since I’m new to all of this. If we have old leases in my Dad’s name that refer to properties - can I trust that there must be mineral rights in my Dad’s name for the properties as listed? Specifically, we have a lease that includes the properties for which we found in the records, but it also includes an adjoining property that I didn’t anticipate. This is in Sec. 01 9N 3E. I know we have N2 NE4 SW4, but the lease also includes an additional reference for S2 NE4 SW4. Would the lease be wrong?

This is a good indication that these properties were either in your father’s name or that there was a good possibility that he was entitled to them as inheritance. Often leases are taken from individuals may not have title to the property.

Hello. Thank you to all the good info. Another question has come up in my research. If my great-grandmother had mineral interests that she left to my grandmother, that were then passed to my grandfather, and then to my Father … and there are active wells in in the associated section, but we don’t seem to have record of any leases … are we still considered included in the lease(s) if they weren’t able to track us down? One example: Sec. 30 of 07N-04E - the Sherri 1 well. I have called the reporting company and they don’t have us in their records. I’ve left a message for the operator, but am still new to all of this. Just because an active well is in the area of our interests - does that necessarily mean we should be included in a lease for that well?

Sunfish, the short answer is “yes”, but the road to get there can be long and costly depending on the condition of your chain of title. Each of the inheritance steps must be documented with a recorded document like a probated will, a conveying deed or an affidavit of heirship. It has to be verified that there are no records where the property was sold or gifted before it could be inherited. It also has to be verified that your holdings are part of the area allocated for the well spacing. At this point in the well’s life, the burden of proof is on you to provide the documents and the research to verify all of this. If the chain of documents is there, you can present these to the operator and you may get included in the well. The amount of resistance can vary depending on the situation and the operator. Keep in mind that for an older well , the proceeds may never pay for the document and legal costs. Help from landmen and attorneys is often necessary to put everything together.

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The Sherri well by itself is not a very good well. It has only produced less than 10,000 bbls oil and very little gas.

Getting the proper probate title trail done to help your other properties may help this one, but very little income coming from it.

The Sherri #1 well is a 40 acre spaced well in the SW/4 NE/4 of Section 30. If you do not own minerals under this 40 acre tract, you are not entitled to any revenue.

Thank you, TODD_M_Baker - Our interests are in the W/2 of the NE/4 of Sec. 30, so I assume that includes the SW/4. I’ll keep trying to contact the operator.

Thank you, M_Barnes. The PUN website has been very helpful.

Thanks, PeteR - good advice!