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Oil/Gas/Proving Heirship of Mineral Rights

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Question
My two sisters and I inherited the mineral rights for 5 acres in Dewey County, OK, Section 33, 17N 16W from our mother who died in California in 1992 through a Last Will and Testament. The five acres of mineral rights is part of a total 25 acres of mineral rights co-owned by our three aunts. Over the last 20 years, Jackfork and/or Reagan Resources have leased the mineral rights from all of us without any problems. In February, we received a new lease from Jackfork Land Inc, retained by Continental Resources, for leasing the mineral rights at the rate of $750.00/nma for a term of three years. My sisters and I have all signed, notarized and returned our forms as we have done in the past. Jackfork has now informed us that Continental Resources wants a copy of the Last Will and Testament to prove heirship before paying us for the lease. My sister in California, executor of the trust, no longer has a copy of the Last Will and Testament. After moves and such and more than 20 years later, it was lost and neither she nor the attorney have a copy of the Last Will and Testament. The estate did not go through Probate and the Will was never lodged. My sister has sent an Affidavit of Heirship to Jackfork Land, Inc stating that the mineral rights are equally distributed between three siblings as was stated in the Last Will and Testament, but we are being told that Continental Resources is refusing to honor the Affidavit of Heirship. Our aunts have received their share of the lease distribution without any problems. Can Continental Resourceslegally refuse the Affidavit of Heirship? How else can we prove heirship?

Thank you for any advice you can provide.
Mary Yeates

Answer
Ms. Yeates:
Unfortunately many times when the rights to a lease have been assigned to another company, they do not pass on the historical information, which seems to be the issue in your case.
Question, has the Affidavit of Heirship been filed in Dewey County, OK?  If not, you should have an original executed Affidavit of Heirship filed with the Clerk of Court's office. Obtain a copy of the recorded Affidavit.  Then, I would recommend that you write a letter, and send it by Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, to Jackfork Land, Inc., along with a copy of your Oil, Gas and Mineral Lease, and explain the situation - that you had previously executed leases over the stated number of years - to Jackfork Land, Inc., and that the recorded Affidavit of Heirship proves the ownership of your mother's estate, which has not been probated - but should be sufficient information for Continental Land to honor its lease bonus payment to you and your sisters.  

Keep in mind, that if Continental Land does not pay the lease bonus money it owes you - that their Oil, Gas and Mineral Lease is not in effect because paying the consideration for the contract is part of completing a valid agreement.  I would also explain this in your letter; that to your knowledge, until the lease bonus is satisfied (paid) - the lease is not valid.

This will probably make them pay you pretty quick!

Best of luck.  

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Laura M. FitzGerald, CPL

Expertise

PLEASE READ CAREFULLY BEFORE SUBMITTING A QUESTION. I can answer all questions related to oil and gas ownership, mineral interests and working interests concerning the leasing and selling of your minerals, any questions concerning pipeline ROW's, units with the Louisiana Department of Conservation; pooling provisions, depth limitations, vertical or horizontal pugh clauses; and oil and gas terminology. I can offer assistance in negotiating for leasing your property, assisting in locating owners of suspended funds or to receive the best offer for your oil and gas interests, should you desire to sell. I am only able to answer questions regarding oil and gas leases, minerals, royalties, or offers to purchase mineral/royalty interests if I have complete information. Please provide a full legal description for your interest(s). If the question pertains to a lease, please include all terms of any current (or desired) lease offers, including lease bonus amount, royalty and lease term. If the question is regarding a mineral or royalty interest offer to purchase, please provide the offer amount, date of offer, other offer terms, and further details on the mineral/royalty interest, such as lease terms, and if producing, the average monthly income. Since I receive numerous inquiries daily, I am only able to answer your questions efficiently and effectively if I have complete information. I must decline any questions submitted with incomplete information. If your question is non-technical in nature and you simply need assistance understanding an oil and gas matter, please submit your question with as much information and detail as possible. Any background information that has led to your question is also very helpful.

Experience

I have over 34 years experience as an Independent Petroleum Landman. I became a Landman after working as a paralegal for Oil & Gas Attorneys for 8 years. My first 2 years were spent specializing in Well History and Research with the Louisiana Department of Conservation, then moving into clearing title defects and handling title curative for oil and gas properties for the next 6 years. Subsequent thereto, I handled title issues, buying oil and gas leases and settling surface damages. I also acquired acreage for drilling prospects in excess of 10,000 acres. I also became a mineral/royalty owner commencing in 2004 and have found that I can help many people when they have reached the point in their lives they feel converting their minerals or royalties into a cash asset benefits them.

Organizations
American Association for Professional Landmen, ArkLaTex Assoc. of Professional Landmen, and Dallas Association of Professional Landmen (DAPL), Certified by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)- South. This certification is one of the most widely recognized and respected certifications in the nation. This designation is reserved for only those women-led businesses that exemplify the characteristics of integrity and professionalism to which the WBENC adheres to so strictly.

Education/Credentials
Attended LSU, became a Certified Professional Landman in 1994; Notary Public with dual authority in multiple parishes in North Louisiana; Bilingual in English and Greek

Awards and Honors
Expert Oil & Gas Professional assisting attorneys representing landowners. Involved in 2 lawsuits and both suits were awarded to the landowner. Ilios Resources, Inc. has been awarded the Best of Shreveport Oil and Gas Mineral Buyer Award for 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.

Past/Present Clients
Consultant Landman for Texas Oil & Gas (TXO Production Corp.), Anadarko Petroleum, Comstock Resources,Independent Geologists, Pipeline ROW Clients, and Oil & Gas Attorneys. For the past 5 years my practice is primarily an advocacy for the landowner. I also assist royalty owners recover suspended payments or incorrect royalty payments, or sell their mineral or royalty interest.

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