What to do?

My mother passed away in March of 2010; at the time she had a lease with a small oil company.

Eventually my three brothers and I were contacted by way of mail from Hess; who bought out the lease in McKenzie County, ND; which started producing in mid April 2013.

After a long talk Hess and a lawyer we were told that we would have to legally settle her estate as she had no will and possibly the estate of her legal father; which was done previous to her gaining ownership.

We've been back-and-forth with Hess over the past 9 months trying to figure out exactly what needs to be done to receive the royalties they have been withholding. Each time we called we requested they either send us a packet or letter of some sort telling us exactly what needs to be done, where, and in what order. However they have yet to send anything in the mail or call back concerning the request.

What I need to know now is what I need to do to get their attention and hopefully receive a reply. I will be calling again in the next few hours.

Thanks for your time.

It sounds like they told you that you have to legally settle some estates.

The only thing that you can really do at this point is start a paper trail, after consulting an attorney.

The attorney should also be able to give you legal advice on how to settle the estate(s).

If you are looking for a magic answer here that will guarantee you instant results when you make that next call, I doubt that you will get one. I don't think there is one.


This might be a situation whereas an "Affidavit of Heirship" could be properly filed with the McKenzie County Clerks office. In the past, this procedure has been successfully utilized when no will exists.

A quiet title action should settle things and I think would be preferable if two or more estates are involved.

We did ours with an Affidavit of Heirship and the Death Certificates. Oil Companies are "paper people". They have to cover themselves that you are the proper heir so someone else can't come by later and say they paid the wrong person. When you call ask them for the Affidavit paperwork to be sent to you.

If they want you to settle the estates, nothing less than settling the estates will do, they will keep your money working for them until you do.

Operators have been having a ball in ND because ND does not even recognize probates from other states. There is a huge amount of unpaid royalty because of title requirements and people who will not spend $3,000 to $4,000 to get good title so they can collect their royalty. Sadly, I'm sure some people just don't have the wherewithall to pay a lawyer, although they may have $20,000 in royalty waiting for them when they do.

I know of at least one person who had to probate an estate for less than 1/10th of an acre to receive their royalty in ND, an Affidavit of Death and Heirship was not enough.

Wow, I guess I was lucky then.