Transfer ownership to heir

My mother recently passed away. She has a couple of oil and gas leases in West Virginia. I contacted the leasing company and they told me to change title at the courthouse then call them back. I only have the leases as documentation. I would appreciate any guidance on next steps. I do not live in WVA so I’m trying to do this remotely. Thanks on advance.


Wow, it's hard to summarize the "next steps" in anything approaching a succinct manner. First of all, you can't just go down to a courthouse and say, "Hey, could you just change my mother's name to my name in the computer." (You CAN at the appraisal district IF you have proper documentation.)

If your mother had a Will and it was filed in a Probate Court, then send a certified copy of her Probate documents to the Company and that should be it. The person(s) who inherited her oil-and-gas interest will most likely be found somewhere within the specific wording in the Will.

If she did NOT have a Will or did have a Will but it was NOT filed in Court, then her heirs-at-law will be determined by the "laws of descent and distribution" for West Virginia. Every state has a set of these laws to determine exactly WHO will inherit property from a person who dies "intestate" (without a Will). Then, after determining who those persons are, somebody with personal knowledge about your mother's marital history and offspring could file an "Affidavit of Heirship" at the County Clerk's Office where the minerals are located to put the public on notice about exactly WHO inherited property from your mother's Estate under the West Virginia "laws of descent and distribution." After filing it, obtaining a certified copy of it, and sending THAT to the Company, that should suffice to release the funds to whoever inherited from her. However, keep in mind that if her Will ever WERE accepted by a judge for filing in a Probate Court, even if it were filed AFTER the filing of the "Affidavit of Heirship," whatever the Will says would OVERRIDE whatever the "laws of descent and distribution" and the "Affidavit of Heirship" say.

Probably your best course of action is to spend a little bit of money talking to a qualified attorney, ESPECIALLY if there is a producing well on this property.