What to do when a loved one dies... article on being prepared

Remember to include your minerals in your estate plan and let your heirs know where to find important info and who to contact. Some of the attorneys on the site might want to add their comments regarding minerals that are included in estates and what you need to do while you are working on the probate and soon thereafter. I have THE Black Book with my directions, phone numbers, contact info, passwords, copy of will, spare keys to lock box, etc. My children and my spouse know where to find it and I update frequently.


Here are a few things to keep in mind immediately if a loved one passes:

  •  Secure the deceased’s personal property (vehicle, home, business, etc.).
  •  Notify the post office.
  •  Find the original copy of the Last Will and Testament, if available, and make photocopies
  •  Get several copies of the death certificate.
  •  Notify the Social Security office.
  •  Take care of any Medicare details that need attention.
  •  Contact the deceased’s employer to find out about benefits dispensation.
  •  Stop health insurance and notify relevant insurance companies.
  •  Cancel your loved one’s driver’s license, passport, voter’s registration, and clubmemberships.
  •  Close out email and social media accounts, and shut down websites no longer needed.
  •  Gather the following information for the probate attorney:

o List of known assets and liabilities o Contact information for the decedant’s financial advisors, insurance agent, tax

professional, and other professional advisors o List of the deceased’s surviving family members, including their contact

information when available.  Contact your tax preparer.


An estate plan makes things easy for your family while you are alive. Powers of attorneys, trusts can avoid the need for guardianship. Advanced directives tells doctors and families what care you want or don’t want at end of life. Trusts and Transfer on Death Deeds can pass real property (and minerals) free of probate. Wills do not avoid probate but can alter distributions that might otherwise pass by intestacy.

Too often I get calls from people that say “dad had a trust” but dad never deeded the minerals into it. This is easy to avoid with a simple deed to trust before death. After death a probate is needed.


Hi M_Barnes,I have read a few forums and understand you are the one I should ask? My mother Judy Gust had inherited mineral rights and passed away with no will,probate or executor or anything.My two siblings are the only family left and she passed away in 2001 in Cass County, North Dakota.We thought she had sold all her mineral rights but found out she has a few left in Garvin,Grady and McClain counties that appear to be in pay status.What is my first step? I found 4 hits on her name from the MOEAsearch website.I would rather not have to pay for an attorney if possible. Any advice or help you could give is greatly appreciated.

Since I am not an attorney, cannot give legal advice. I am afraid that you will have to hire an attorney to file an ancillary probate in OK in order to clear the title. Richard Winblad on the forum has quite a few postings on the topic. Those are pretty good counties, so worth your time to get it cleared up. It doesn’t have to be that expensive.

There are several OK attorneys listed on the Directories tab above.


Here is an additional article for 2020. Excellent blog from Agrilife.org. Texas attorney that has good articles on Texas ranches, oil and gas, etc. This list adds items that are more ranch related.

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I under stand the differences now my ND attorney is going to do a “Life Estate Deed” this will do exactly what you said. It goes right into my kids names smoothly that way so much simplier. Thanks for info.

Beware: Granting a life estate for minerals can be troublesome. In a life estate the grantor (you) are entitled to enjoy the property during your life. However, you may not commit Waste. Therefore, you might not be able to sign a lease unless the remaindermen (your kids) also sign the lease. If they are unwilling or unable (due to incapacity) then you will be stuck. There are ways to draft a life estate that allows the grantor to retain those rights. However, a far more simple probate avoidance plan would be to create a trust or use a transfer on death deed. With these you maintain control and in most states avoid judicial oversight or probate. This is not legal advice but things to ask about before taking the next step.

The attached chart may be helpful to understand the various way to transfer minerals to children or heirs. This is over simplified but is designed as a rough guide when visiting with an attorney.Methods to Transfer Minerals to Children or Heirs.pdf (95.9 KB)Chart Mineral Options

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