Who Can Solve This Royalty Inheritance

Need a Probate Attorney’s advice and opinion specializing in oil and gas leases.

A married couple was gifted a long time family farm of 107 acres. The husband passed away testate, with a will in which the wife is executor. This 107 acres was then deeded solely to the wife after Will was probated. The wife signed a couple of oil & gas lease’s for exploration. Fast forward 20 years. Wife is now 85 years old and a man buying up all of the land in the area wrote a contract to purchase her land (which was not for sale and HEAVY oil & gas exploration and production). The contract was signed and the man purchased the property. The mans attorney had the general warranty deed prepared, severing the mineral rights in this warranty deed (not a separate mineral deed), stating that she would keep the royalties and mineral rights for her lifetime, and would transfer upon her death.

At this time, royalties have been rolling in. Several leases have been producing oil and approximately 6-8 wells on the property are producing and paying royalties. A family member became the guardian (she had no children) and was named executor in the Will and she was taken care of in their home for 7 years. Guardian was In charge of her finances, royalties, everything.

Fast forward. Th age of nearly 100, wife has passed. Will was probated, death cert filed in county of property and with all oil & gas companies.

Does the current oil & gas lease stay with her heirs (executor of her will) or does the lease transfer to the man that purchased the land from her?

If the royalties are still being received after death, does that mean that specific lease stayed with the heirs? The lease that was signed stated verbiage to survive death of lessor and for heirs and successors and assigns to forever receive royalties until lease is terminated. And the contract/general warranty deed states that the mineral rights be conveyed at death. Which one supersedes the other?

Please help.

Kristin- as much as this forum would love to give you a good answer, you need to get a good lawyer to sort things out based on the actual documents. IMHO, the lease stays with the minerals that are subject to the transfer on death deed. I don’t believe the oil & gas lease holds any control over the mineral ownership. The purchaser is a successor & assignee of the decedent.

Good luck.


Todd, if this executor is still receiving royalties. Why is that?


Todd is correct, the individual that purchased the minerals (that he wouldn’t receive until her death) would be the rightful owner of the interest. If the executor is still receiving royalties I would assume that the operator was not informed of the conveyance considering the individual who purchased the property didn’t do a change of ownership.

1 Like

The interpretation of the deed and related documents depends on all of the language, not a summary of the terms, and state law where the minerals are located. You need to consult an oil and gas title attorney in that state. There could be issues not only regarding the time and terms, but also whether the deed transferred all or only a portion of the minerals were transferred. This is not a matter on which you can get a definitive answer to your questions.

1 Like

So it is up to the purchaser to contact the oil & gas company to correct proof of ownership? All deeds, death certs, and any document needed has been delivered to the county and to the oil companies. Executor is still receiving royalties and has received the interest payment for the division of 2019. They have done everything to provide proof and notice. Still receiving checks. Can the appraisal district be incorrect for the mineral rolls of 2019 OR is the man that purchased the property not the rightful owner. And the verbiage on the deed stated that he would have executive rights.

Their oil & gas attorney advised them to submit all the documentation and so they did. He has not given an answer as to who owns the mineral rights. The situation is so squirrelly because the man that purchased the property knew what he was doing. He frauded an elderly and multiple others. His attorney that he used when buying up all these properties went to jail for fraudulent matters (not related to this conveyance) but others. The way they drew up the deed, the elder did not know she was signing away her mineral rights. She did not have representation. They showed up at her door. They get that there is probably nothing to do about it now. This man that purchased all of the properties receives thousands and thousands per month of royalties from MULTIPLE surrounding properties (hers is included in the pool). He offered $65k for 107 acres AND executive mineral rights in 2004. He took advantage of all of the elderly farmers in this area.

Bottom line, they can’t go back and change or prove that the contract was void due to how long ago it was.

Perhaps a consult from an Elder care attorney could help or get this frauster behind bars

Kris, you said it in your very first sentence, you need an attorney. Based on the information provided in your scenario, the elderly widow was not necessarily defrauded and I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion. Also, her executor is not necessarily an heir. You didn’t state if she had heirs or who they are. An oil and gad lease typically remains valid as long as it is held by production regardless of who the owner is or how many times the mineral ownership changes hands. So, my opinion is the man who bought the minerals should start receiving the revenue upon the death of the elderly woman but the minerals are still under the terms of the old lease as long as there has been continuous production. My experience is in Oklahoma.

  • A couple inherited 107 acres via a decedent’s estate.
  • The husband passed away and the wife succeeded to his interests as joint survivor.
  • To this point, the mineral rights would appear to be vested with the surviving spouse.
  • Then someone purchased her land including the mineral rights.
  • The warranty deed severed the mineral rights until her death and would then transfer to grantee upon her death.
  • The language seems pretty clear. She dies, the mineral rights are transferred to grantee.
  • The wife later signed OGL’s.
  • The wife passed away at 100 years old and died testate, i.e. with LWT and her estate was probated.
  • Whether or not the wife mentioned the mineral rights in her estate, upon recording a death certificate in counties covered on the deed the mineral rights would then appear to be to be vested in the grantee.
  • The intent of the deed appears to be that the grantee would appear to be the successor of the mineral interests of the now deceased woman’s mineral interests upon her death.
  • Opinion: Terms of any oil and gas leases - and royalties due mineral owners - are subject to conveyances of record. In this case, it would appear to be the mineral rights would be vested in the grantee on the deed upon the grantor’s death. That’s just an opinion. And I’m not an attorney, but it sounds pretty good…for not being an attorney. Best to spend some $'s and consult with a good OG attorney.

Perhaps, because she signed these leases prior to the execution of the warranty deed, these leases and their royalties are exempt from the terms of the sale because they predated the sale?

  1. based on what you stated, the mineral rights, and the benefits under the oil and gas lease are now owned by “the man buying up all the land.”
  2. If there was fraud, you or the heirs should pursue legal advice. However, keep in mind it was 15 years ago, and there was no indication that the widow was not mentally competent. 3.If the executor is still receiving royalties, it is up to the purchaser to contact the oil company to get the payee switched over.
  3. With that said, if the executor is knowledgeable that he/she is not entitled to proceeds, he/she is subject to getting sued, and damages awarded against him/her.

Definitive legal advice can only be given after a review of all of the terms of the deed based on state law. In Texas, the deed is only interpreted based on the “four corners” of the document, not on intent or other correspondence. Other states could have different laws. The executor/heirs should have the documents reviewed by an oil and gas title attorney and act based on that advice.