What do I do when Mineral Rights are in a Trust?

My Great Aunt passed in 1974 and left her land to her nieces and nephews who had not predeceased her. My Mother and Uncle each inherited a share. The land was sold and the new owners retained 1/2 future Mineral Rights. My Mother and Uncle each had an equal share in the other 1/2. I am an only child and only grandchild and inherited both shares. My Mother left a will which has closed Probate in Arizona. My Uncle left a will and a Trust in which he placed the Mineral Interests. The balance of his estate was a Small Estate and they aren't probated in Arizona and therefore there can't be an Ancillary Probate in Oklahoma. Do any of you know what I should do next?? Thanks for any help.

To transfer the deeds to your name you will need to file affidavits of heirship, copies of the wills, death certificates and the trust docs. If the properties are not individually listed in the wills and/or trust there should be a clause in the will called a remainder clause which would capture those properties without naming them. If your mother's probate listed the properties then your already covered there. Your uncle's lack of probate shouldn't matter if you have the other information e.g., the remainder clause in his will. Otherwise you may have to go before a judge to prove your heirship. I would secure the services of a lawyer to prepare and file the necessary documents though you could do it yourself. I am not 100% certain I am right but that is pretty much what I had to do on several properties. Good luck.

I can only tell you of our experience here in CA. We had a similar situation, as Steven Hales said you should be covered if the property is specifically named in your mother's and uncle's trusts. In our case previously unknown mineral rights were discovered which were NOT described in the family trust. We did not have to go through probate in CA but we were forced to go through a simple probate in OK since their laws are different. We had to get an Oklahoma lawyer and the process took a several months. I think it's very unfortunate that different states have different requirements, some don't accept trusts and want wills, others are the opposite. When you live outside of the state you are at a great disadvantage, if you live in the state where the property is located you can do much of the work (if not all) on your own. So, hope all works out well for you. As Steven said, you will need heirship documents and you will need to also notify the oil or other companies if there are leases on the land.

Dear Mr Hales,

With regard to a remainder clause, would this paragraph in my Uncle's Trust qualify?

"I specifically give, devise and bequeath as follows: That any property, as set forth and established by the state of Arizona, whether real, personal or mixed, tangible or intangible, of value or substance, or of whatsoever nature and wheresoever situated, that I may own, I freely place in the Richard M. Hansing Trust." He then nominates me as his Executrix and Personal Representative and next states, "I also authorize and empower my Personal Representative to act in accordance with such nomination, to sell, dispose of, and transfer any and all of my property, both real and personal, of whatsoever nature, and wheresoever situated, without further order of any court." Should this get the job done?

oops! I misspoke--those quotes were in his will, not the Trust!

I probably shouldn't have replied in the first place as I am not an attorney. But just wanted to share my experiences one of which was a multi generational affair of proving ownership and I am still open to legal challenges for the next 7 years since one will failed to include a remainder clause.

That does appear to be a remainder clause but within his bequest. If the deeds are not in the trust's name I believe that they will need to be transferred to the trust and then to you all of which can be done at the same time. This is where the advice and help of an attorney is essential. You do not want to make an error here or that would cloud your title and cause an oil company to delay a lease agreement or sale.

Since we went through probate and some other mineral related issues this year I would advise you to shop around when you need the attorney. In our probate attorneys wanted from 15-25% so you can bargain with them. Also, ask other people familiar with some attorneys for reviews and get an attorney familiar with the type of case you have. Some are experienced in minerals cases and some aren't. An attorney with mineral case experience will handle the case more quickly and will know all the hoops that have to be jumped through and probably save you money in the long run. I know of one case where the attorney made mistakes which cost one of our relatives a lot more money and time and a 2nd attorney had to take over. In any case, good luck and hope you do well (no pun on the WELL).

By the way - Some states give a will more credence than a trust and vice verse. When we went through the probate and heir-ship case in Oklahoma we were told that the will was more important but there was no will, only a trust. You might also be able to get some information from a legal aid office in OK which could save you some time and money.

M. Barnes, John Moran, Steven Hales, and everyone, you have all been wonderful in the ways you have have helped me get as far as I as I am. The clause was in his will, so I am hopeful. This place is great! Next, off to make some calls and learn some more!