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Question
Is there another way to receive these royalties other than the expensive probate? we are receiving royalties from Hess without probate. Here is a copy of the refusal to pay.However, we will not be paying royalties until the estate has undergone probate.  A Proof of Death and Heirship is not a legal conveyance of ownership, and therefore the minerals, according to North Dakota law, have not been transferred.  I refer you to points 9 and 10 at the North Dakota Petroleum Council Royalty Owner Information Center.

Answer
It's up to the oil company really, but as you've found, some (most actually) won't pay and will instead place payments into a "suspense account" until ownership is determined. Unless you have "marketable title" to the mineral rights, which, if they were inherited and the estates of those you inherited from have not been probated in the state where the minerals are located, you don't; then it's likely you will have to get that taken care of before they will release any funds they've held back and begin paying you regularly.  

Some states do require interest be paid on payments that have been put in suspense due to title problems, but others do not require interest if the withholding of payments is due to a title issue (as yours is.) Check with your state to determine which is the case. They are correct in stating that a PDH does not give you marketable title. My advice would be to either get the probate done or sell the mineral rights to someone who will pay to get the probate done.

If you go the latter route, listing them for sale on my Mineral Hub website (link below) can probably help you out with finding a suitable buyer. If you decide to keep them, then I'd expect to pay a probate attorney around $2500 assuming the probate is not complicated.

Hope this helps you out.
Frederick M. "Mick" Scott CMM, RPL
www.mineralhub.com
The Mineral Hub  

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Frederick M. Scott

Expertise

Oil and gas leasing, lease negotiations, how to best deal with the oil and gas companies or their representatives, buying/selling mineral rights, forced-pooling, correlative rights, deeds and conveyances, and "post-production" costs. I am most experienced with Oklahoma properties and laws, but am able to answer questions concerning other oil and gas producing states in many cases.

Experience

I am a Certified Professional Mineral Manager (CMM) certified by the National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO) in Tulsa, OK. I am also a Registered Professional Landman (RPL) with the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL). I have managed my family's oil and gas properties in Oklahoma for over 10 years and have dealt with many landmen, title analysts, attorneys and other oil and gas professionals in the process. I have written several articles which have appeared in various oil and gas industry magazines and newsletters. I have negotiated and drafted leases, prepared deeds, affidavits, and other legal instruments relating to my own minerals, as well as performed title, legal research, and curative work for same. I have acquired a good deal of knowledge on the subjects of oil and gas law, mineral appraisal, and landwork over the past ten years, and also worked as a professional landman and lease buyer for a time. I've seen the business from "both sides" and therefore feel confident I can help out most of the folks who ask questions in this forum.

Organizations
National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO); American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL)

Publications
National Association of Royalty Owners "Action Report" (ROAR); NADOA Magazine, The Mineral Hub, Landman Magazine, and several royalty owner association group's newsletters.

Education/Credentials
Certified Mineral Manager (CMM), Registered Professional Landman (RPL)

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