Trust documents and probate from 1978

How long is a bank required to hold documents related to the disposition of assets held in trust? 40 years ago my grandmother was named as a beneficiary to receive 1/4 of a very large OK estate some of which was held in trust by the bank which was also the executor of the estate. We have discovered, through the OK and Texas unclaimed property, that she is the owner of record of minerals that were not in her known inventory. We obtained a copy of the 1978 probated will from the county and see many other minerals for which we do not know if she received her share. Hoping we could get a list of the final disposition made by the trustee, we called the bank and were told they no longer had the records. My grandmother died intestate and we are getting calls, letters, pooling orders from people wishing to buy her interest in properties we did not know existed. if banks/trustees are not required to keep these documents how can we discover what she may really have title to? Or if the correct distributions were even made? It’s a mess and very frustrating for her heirs.

I believe you will need to research the county records. Mineral records are filed there, not with a bank. You may need to hire a lawyer to research, but most county records are now online.

First of all I am not a lawyer but it sounds like you are going to need to have a Quiet Title action performed for each property. This is where Court action is needed to draft a new deed after notices are placed in the local newspaper asking for objections.

It is most likely best to use a local lawyer. Unfortunately you will be charged hourly rates which will seem excessive. However, since your family did not kept the records for the property( real property or minerals ) UP-to-date you will need legal action. Since it sounds like there are several plots of minerals you may be able to ask for some type of bulk deal. Also, it may be helpful to drop by the local court and ask if they can help you do it yourself ( normally I have had the clerks tell me to get a lawyer - they don’t want to take on the liability)

You may also want to check and search there for her ancestors or the trust name. They may not go back far enough in digital form. On the pooling orders, you may want to go ahead and answer them promptly as an heir and ask for the option that you want. Otherwise, you will get assigned the worst option. They are going to need documentation for your claim, but at least you have your request made in a timely manner. Any of those offers to buy probably mean that you have potential money already waiting for you or drilling may be pending. You wouldn’t be able to sell anyway without getting the estate in final probate shape, but it sounds like it is worth it. Any correspondence with anyone needs to be by certified return receipt mail.

Here is a nice spreadsheet from NARO-National Association or Royalty Owners that will help you get your files in order. I use something similar but in Excel which is easier to fill out.

I would start with the probate case and the order. Online land records for Canadian county go back at least to 1978. It may be possible to reopen the probate to resolve issues and to unlock funds in unclaimed property.