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Oil/Gas/Transfering Mineral Deed from Father (no longer alive) and Mother to Daughter

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QUESTION: I apprceiate yoru comments.
    A few questions I have.

(1) There is a Mineral Deed in my father and mother names. The land is in OK but there are from another state. ( There names is listed as follows XXXXX and XXXXX, hw.) What does the letters hw. mean? (This mineral deed was given to them in 1960's.)

(2) My father has died without a will. But my mother is alive. What would be the best way for the mineral deed to be put in my name?  Because my father is no longer alive, what would happen to his portion?

Also, on the mineral deed it says,  ........... an undivided  2/160ths interest of oil and gas productions only in and under that may be produced......... (containing 2 acres)

Is this worth following through with this?  I'm not sure what to do. (I was told there is no activity going on now.)

ANSWER: 1. HW - would generally be construed to mean "husband and wife".

2. This depends on the state laws for intestate (or "without a will") laws in the state which he was a resident when he passed away.  Though, generally, if you can assemble all his heirs and your mom and ask them to execute an Affidavit of Heirship along with two witnesses who have nothing to gain from the declaration along with a deed from the named heirs to you then you would accomplish the task without going through the courts.

3.  It is always worth keeping the records straight, in my opinion, and it could be worth a great deal to your heirs if not to you.

Thanks,

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

QUESTION: Hi,

    Thank you for responding!

     In reading about the laws of intestate in the state where they live. the spouse and the children will get it.  In regard to the affidavit of heirship does that mean that my mother and my brothers and sister have to sign the form and a new deed from them individually to me?

I want to make sure that I understand this.

     If I have my mother turn over her portion of the mineral deed, then I would only own half of it, is that correct?
Would I be able to claim half of the oil and gas production that is on the deed because she signed over her portion to me? Is that correct and is it legal?

Just wondering.  Thank so much for responding to me.

ANSWER: An Affidavit of Heirship should be executed by two witnesses that are familiar with your family but stand to gain nothing by the filing of the Affidavit.  It helps a great deal to have the remaining family members execute it as well.  The reason you want the witnesses is so no other (supposed) family members come along later and attempt to claim that the rest of the family tried to keep them out of the distribution of property.

The second question on mom deeding her interest to you:  That is legal.  She has the right to convey her interest to any person that she desires to convey to.  There is no legal claim the other family members have to that interest.  In fact, she could sell it to her neighbor without anyone's permission as well.

Technically, you would own your inherited interest and her 1/2 interest if she conveys to you.

Thanks,

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

QUESTION: Thank you Mr. Williams. I have three more questions:

    Regarding about my fathers portion and his heirs, wouldn't his heir be his wife (which is my mother)?  What you shared about before going through the courts (intestate) that is one way to do it (which up to a certain amount the spouse gets it and then a percentage and then the children - something like that I think  Being that there is no activity. it very hard to put a price on it)

    The other way regarding Affidavit of Heirship, wouldn't my mother be the only heir of my father (and would be the only person to fill out this form?

    Secondly, regarding the wording of the mineral deed,  ...................and to all of production only of the oil,gas only in and under and that may be produced from the following described lands.......
Would you describe to me what is this wording? (for example if oil, gas, is found on the land and found underground would someone would be entitled to both of them.

    Also, if the interest is 2/160s  would it be for each above ground and underground?

Thank you so much Mr. Williams for sharing your comments with me!

Answer
Heirs are determined by state law in the state in which he was a resident when he passed away.  In Texas, for example, it was established until in the 1990's that when a parent passed away 1/2 the husband's property passed to the kids and the other 1/2 passed to the wife.  Now if there are not previous children (from a another woman) then all the property goes to the wife.  Each state is going to be different so you have to be clear on that for his home state prior to making a decision on who the heirs were.

The Affidavit is supposed to be a declaration from an unaffiliated 3rd party attesting to who is going to receive property from the deceased.  A person who is an heir could be biased and fill out an affidavit attesting to facts about heirship that only benefit the heir filling out the form.  For this reason the best affidavit comes from two disinterested witnesses to the heirship information.

Third, in the wording of the mineral deed you want to not include the word "production".  You want to generally state that the deed conveys property.  Don't get too caught up in the "in, on and under" that is boilerplate language making sure you get all the minerals available.  The law is moving away from "legalese" and toward a more understandable language format.  A simple "all" is sufficient to cover "in, on, and under" in today's legal climate.

All these suggestions should be followed up and confirmed by someone who is licensed in your particular state.  Each state law is different regarding these issues and my information is general in nature so that you might have additional information rather than a specific "go by" to follow for the documents.

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Cliff Williams

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

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

Publications
Multiple oil and gas topical columns on ezine.com.

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

Awards and Honors
Husband and father of 26 years

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