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QUESTION: I have mineral rights to land in Lea county I inheirted from my great aunt.I have the deed and other papers. I have the will stating she left it to me. She died in 1986. I have done nothing with it. would like to know if i still own them and what I need to do .

thank you very much,
Deborah French

ANSWER: It is impossible to say what may have happened to them over the last 27 years.  The status of the interest can be determined through an inspection of the deed records in the clerk's office in Lea County.

If she passed away without conveying them to you in the deed records of Lea County then the minerals are very likely still vested in her estate.  When a will is located the will must be delivered to the Judge in the county responsible for the probate administration of the county.  The judge verifies the legality of the will and establishes the person who is to administer the estate.  The will must be brought to the courts within 4 years of the person's passing to be valid.  That administrator is to convey the real property according to the will by using an conveyance document such as a trustee's deed, or an administrator's deed or similar.  

Your next question is likely to be:  If this process is not carried out within 4 years what are we to do?

The State of Texas Probate Code has a longer route for you to take, it can be used but it is more tedious.  Your second option is to obtain, draft or hire an attorney to draft an "Affidavit of Heirship".  This affidavit should be executed by two people who are familiar with the family history and the property.  The problem with an Affidavit of Heirship is that it passes the property to your Great Aunt's heirs rather than according to her will.  But, if everyone is in agreement that you are the person she intended to have the property then they may convey that interest to you.

Either way you choose to go you will want to contact and hire a Texas Probate Attorney to help you through the process.  If there is oil and gas in the area you may well have incentive to get the interest vested in your name.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: the will was probated shortly after she died. I have the original deed and a copy of the will.Do I still need to retain an attorney or would I be able to come to Lea County and do what needs to be done? I was the administrator of the estate

You need an order from the original judge appointing you the administrator (which may have happened many years ago) and then you can draft...or have an attorney draft an administrator/trustee deed and convey the minerals to the rightful owner without further court entanglement.  


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Cliff Williams


I will try to answer any question you have. Even if I reject a question, I still will give a shot at what I would do in your position. The only questions I will not take a shot at would be a highly technical engineering or geological question. I am beginning to see quite a few questions from land men and other oil companies and that doesn't matter to me either. I will attempt to help.


I am an oil and gas attorney that has been in the business for more than 20 years. I have held a series 22 and 63 securities license, been in oil and gas operations, land man, division order analyst all prior to obtaining my law degree. Today, I typically write title opinions verifying ownership of oil and gas minerals, assist landowners in negotiations on oil, gas and mineral leases, easements and conveyances. I also assist oil and gas companies with the sale of working interest ownership as well as common business law issues.

State Bar of Texas, Member of the Tarrant County Bar and the Dallas County Bar Associations.

Multiple oil and gas topical columns on

I have a B.S. degree which I rely upon more than my Business Mgmt degree or Law degree...

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