What document transfers Mineral Rights


My wife’s father died in 1997, he owned numerous mineral rights in New Mexico. His will was probated, but the mineral rights were not mentioned apparently… My wife became incapacitated and died in 2012, her only heir is our daughter. We recently became aware of these mineral rights and my question is how and what documents are mineral rights transferred to heirs? We are finding my wife’s siblings have apparently been receiving and cashing the royalty checks for 21 years now, how do we go about claiming that money?.
We have so far uncovered mineral rights in New Mexico, in Chaves and Lea counties. There may be more but how do we find them? Is there some database that lists all mineral rights owners and the locations?

Please be gentle with language, as is probably apparent, I am just starting to learn about the whole mineral rights business stuff and as of now am dumber than a box of rocks…


If your wife’s father’s will was probated in New Mexico, then it will be easy to file the probate records in each county. If not, and the estate is open, then I think you can do ancillary probate. If not and the estate is closed, then you may have to file a quiet title action. The same will be true of your wife’s estate. Did your wife leave her property to your daughter? Otherwise, you may have to disclaim your rights as her husband. I highly recommend that you get an experience title / estate attorney in NM or licensed in NM to work your way through this. You will only do this in one county and then file the paperwork in in the other county. Be sure to ask which county has a faster court process. Lea County can be slow but I do not know about Chaves County.


The will was probated in NM 5th District Court, which includes Lea and Chaves county, That clearly gives one fifth of the mineral rights to my deceased ex wife, my question deals with if there is some other document than the probate required to transfer the rights to his heirs… Ex wife did not have a will, but had only one heir, her daughter, what document is needed to transfer ex wife’s rights to my daughter?.


You can check the Lea and Chaves County Deed Records for an Executor’s Deed from the estate of your wife’s father to her and her siblings. If there was no Executor’s Deed, you will probably want to obtain a certified copy of the entire probate file - or at minimum, his Last Will and Testament , the Order Approving the Will, the Inventory of the Estate, and the Final Order closing the estate. If no probate or administration was performed on your wife’s estate, you can file an Affidavit of Heirship with the Lea and Chaves County Clerks. Begin with your wife’s father, and break down the lineage of succession to your wife, to you/your daughter, etc. Include all facts - your wife is deceased, and yourself and your daughter are her surviving heirs, whether you were married when she passed, etc. The affidavit should be signed by a person who has no interest in the estate of your wife’s father, or your wife, but is familiar enough with your family history to swear to the facts. If possible, have two people sign a copy and file them both in each county. A quick google search will provide many Affidavit of Heirship templates, and as long as the facts are there, the format should not matter.

As to the question of royalty payments received by your wife’s siblings, I would ask the siblings what company they are receiving royalties from and contact that company’s Division Order Analyst to find out whether they have been holding your wife’s funds in suspense. If they have not, find out what information they need to clear ownership of yours/ your daughter’s mineral interests ( the documents mentioned above should be sufficient) and whether the undistributed funds are being held by the company or escheated to the State of New Mexico. You can hire an attorney to do all this for you, but if you’re willing to invest a little time and work, you can do most if not all of it yourself and learn quite a bit along the way.

Best of luck!


I thank you so much for your informative comments, they are especially appreciated since this struggle seems to all alone and in a fog.
I am awaiting the probate records (we had them twice, but they have been lost), and am having the “affidavit of heirship” made up.
This discovery came about recently when some royalty checks were somehow found in the Florida unclaimed property lists. We had been advised that all the oil wells had dried up and were of no value. The Florida unclaimed property office would not release them until they were furnished with the rightful heirs of the money. I was able to obtain the names of the three different payers of the royalty checks from that and communicated with them that they were providing checks to the wrong people and gave them the rightful owners. They were BP America, Navajo Refining (now Slayton Resources) and EGL Resources., I have yet to even hear back from any of those companies, it has been a month and a half. Obviously they don’t seem to care at all about this, I intend to follow up with probate and heir ship records to maybe get them interested, but that seems to be in all probability a fruitless effort as well.,.
From all indications and my research so far, it appears that the executor of the estate has been receiving and cashing these checks for herself for 21 years! Apparently there is no check or balance that keeps that from happening, she of course is totally unwilling to communicate about this with us. I have been trying to find the physical location of these mineral rights, so far with no success. They all appear to be in Chaves County.
The frustration is that nobody seems to care. The oil companies are getting their oil, and apparently feels that any work on their part to clear it up is beyond their scope or responsibility. The deceased person cannot of course do anything, and the person cashing the checks of course would like to leave things as they have been for 21 years. for personal enrichment reasons…
I would love to know the amounts of those 21 years of checks, but that seems to be information I cannot access either. Would seem silly to go to court asking for some unknown amount of money and no proof that it even exists. My daughters share of the unclaimed property checks was around $1200 for what appears to be a months royalty checks, making the 21 year amount certainly worth pursuit.