Tracking Down Proof of Ownership for Probate

I have a somewhat similar situation with mineral rights associated with homesteads of my father and great-grandfather in McHenry County, North Dakota. When my grandfather sold the land in 1947, he retained 50% of the mineral rights. My mother passed last year. Her trust attorney is wanting to transfer the mineral interests to beneficiaries however so far there is no proof of ownership. I do have evidence of leases, but the most recent record is from 1992. Since only 50% is owned by my family, unrelated persons may also appear as owners. I’m also curious to see if this property has been recently productive. McHenry Co, North Dakota **Lot 1, Township 156 N., Range 79W. (of 5th P.M) Section 4, S1/2NE1/4, SE1/4NW1/4, E1/2SW1/4, SE1/4 Section 9 N1/2NE1/4

I plan to contact the county clerk’s office to determine what ownership is on file. I’m finding that mineral rights is a complex subject and may not be adequately considered when crafting a will or trust. As you mentioned, an ancillary probate process may become necessary. Good luck!

Philly- probates only transfer what someone actually owns. Just because you list something in in a probate doesn’t mean there is ownership. I would suggest contacting an abstract office to do the research.

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Philly, here is the link for a North Dakota Oil & Gas map It looks like there have been only a few scattered dry holes in the 156N 79W area.

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We met a couple of people on this site that helped us find our dad’s ORRI lease and the trail of how he obtained it as well as when he assigned a portion of his % over to another person. From there, we hired an attorney to assure that our title/mineral interest was clean, clear and marketable. We then hired a landman, at the recommendation of our attorney who works with the attorney and is one of the best landsmen in NM and he was great. He mapped out where our dad’s mineral lease was in relation to current production. Also, provided a breakdown of what we would expect in royalties once the wells went active. I can go on the State of NM Oil Conservation Division site and see when a new well becomes active to monitor the activities. The oil company FINALLY acknowledged our title once it was filed correctly with a quiet title by our attorney in the county and we just recently finally received division orders. This took 3 years…

Okay, we received our first letter - Kaydet Oil is acquiring oil and gas leases in E/2 SW/4 of Sec. 15-6N-2E. According to ShaleXP they are a mineral royalty owner. There was an old lease with my parents (originally with West Star), but I don’t know if there was ever much production - everything shows up plugged and abandoned in the PUN search. Does this mean someone wants to drill another well, or that they want to have the lease in case someone else comes along in the future, so they can flip it at a gain? They’re offering us two options: $125 per net mineral acre bonus with 1/8th royalty or $100/per net mineral acre bonus with 3/16th royalty. Since this is my first experience, I’d appreciate any guidance or advice.

PFinck, Thank you for your story! Glad it had a good outcome.

Good luck. We had people contact us as well and offer to buy our interest. We opted to keep our interest. But everyone’s situation is different. I hope you are able to find a land man to advise you

15-6N-2E Silver Creek, Eagle Road and MKB have been the major leasing companies in the last few years. The last wells permitted were in sec 6 and 31. Blue Star Energy had a well in the SW4 Neal 1 which produced until Sep 1990.

Keep in mind that the first draft lease you get is all in the operator’s favor and not yours. You may need legal help to get a better lease.

Thank you, this info is really appreciated. My siblings and I will only have 2.5 acre interests each - which doesn’t sound to me like we will have much leverage in negotiating. But then, we’re new to all of this, and learning more each day. Thanks

Is your interest working interest or ORRI interest? 2.5 each could be quite a lot depending on how much the wells produce. Our is only 1.25 percent between the three of us. But so far, the royalty payouts have been worth the time and money with the attorney.

PFinck - I’m not sure. This may be a silly question, but is that something determined by the ownership, or in the lease? Our ownership documents say, “undivided xx acres mineral interest in oil, gas and other minerals and the oil, gas and other mineral rights in and under the E/2 SW/4 Sec. 15-6N-2E.” The initial letter we received wanting to enter into a lease doesn’t get into all that, it just offers the two royalty choices.

I would recommend that you find a really good and trustworthy Landman to look at your ownership documents, map out exactly what % of either working or ORRI interest you have in each area of the acreage. He can also list through Oklahoma State of Oil and Gas Conservation department (or whatever they call it in OK) the number of wells in this area and what is active or new and not yet active. We were lucky to be referred to a really good attorney who works specifically in oil and gas law and owner’s rights. The attorney recommended their own Landman that they use in their offices and is one of the best in the state of NM. I’m going to email a guy that I met on this site and see if he wouldn’t mind helping you understand the type of interest you have. He was really helpful to me in the beginning before I had to hire an attorney to make our title clean, clear and marketable. If he’s fine with you contacting him, I’ll let you know.

Sunfish- Based on the information you provided, you own a mineral interest, NOT a working interest or ORRI. If you all go together you might be able to get a little bit better offer, but knowing that area, it is not a prolific area of Oklahoma. Kaydet Oil and a small operator by industry standards, but does a good job of drilling the types of wells that they drill.

Thank you, TODD_M_BAKER - that was my understanding too, that we have “mineral interests.” We do have one reference on another property that states RI; I assume that means Royalty Interest. I don’t think much production is going on in any of our areas, but like you said, if my siblings and I make a unified response, we may have more leverage.

Thank you, PFinck and everyone for all the help. I have the name of an attorney and a couple of recommended landmen, so that’s probably a good start, but I have a question: Don’t landmen work for the oil and gas companies, not the mineral owners?

Landmen work for the person that hires them. Some of us are Independent, some work for specific companies.

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I was leary in trusting any landman that I didn’t know anything about. Our attorney referred the landman we paid and he gave the landman a high recommendation. So if he was good enough for the attorney and all their oil and gas cases, he was good enough for me. And he was great!!

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