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Oil/Gas/Oklahoma's Jurisdiction

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Question
I have a valid will properly probated in Texas,in 2000. If I submit/file  an Affidavit of Heirship, in a county of Oklahoma,   to clarify the persons who are the heirs of the Estate,does the filing of the Affidavit of Heirship  or the filing of a certified copy of the Will & Order,submit  me to the jurisdiction of Oklahoma.

Answer
Iím assuming that the land youíre asking the question for is located in Oklahoma.  The land located in Oklahoma is already under the jurisdiction of the laws of Oklahoma, so your ownership in the land is already under Oklahoma jurisdiction.  Letís get that out of the way first.

Unless the laws have changed since I worked Oklahoma oil & gas properties until 5 years ago, as a division order analyst I can tell you that Oklahoma requires what is called ďancillary probate.Ē Oklahoma doesnít allow a Will probated in Texas to be recognized by Oklahoma law just by filing a certified copy of the Will and Order into the County Deed Records where the land is located, unless their laws have drastically changed.  Oil company business policies differ greatly when it comes to Oklahoma, ranging from being willing to honor a Texas probated will without further action in Oklahoma, all the way up to requiring the company be furnished a certified copy of every page of every ancillary probate document filed in the case when itís completed in Oklahoma.  Anything less than ancillary probate in Oklahoma of the Texas Will is probably going to cause a title requirement to show up in a future title opinion saying that title hasnít vested in heirs (affidavit of Heirship) or devisees (probated Will).  That title requirement most likely will keep you from being paid a bonus or royalties until the title flaw is corrected.

Please donít make the mistake of filing an Affidavit of Heirship filled out to reflect only the contents of the Will instead of doing ancillary probate or other legal action.  An Affidavit is signed under a jurat acknowledgment (penalties of perjury).  You really do need to get a lawyer to file the ancillary probate or other action in Oklahoma of the Texas probated Will.  It should be quick & simple, barring any complications, and there are tons of lawyers in Texas also licensed in Oklahoma so it shouldnít be difficult to get good legal help on this one.

If you file an Affidavit of Heirship instead in Oklahoma, it must be true and correct and might not match the contents in the Will. The new owners by law, named in the Affidavit, will be paid future bonus, rentals, and royalties, but ONLY if the oil company paying them will honor the Affidavit.  Some don't--and they require you MUST do ancillary probate or administration of the estate to be paid.

Just to let you know, an ancillary probate action is really nothing more than approaching the court of competent jurisdiction in Oklahoma (petition), giving them a copy of the completed Texas probate documents, and asking basically, ďIs there anything in the terms of this Will probated in Texas that conflicts with Oklahoma law, or is it okay to distribute the Oklahoma real property to the heirs named in the Will?Ē  Thatís the only thing the Oklahoma court can do: pass judgment on whether or not the terms of the already-probated Will violate Oklahoma laws in any way.  Iíve been doing oil and gas division order work for 35 years and Iíve never seen a Texas Will that did not pass through Oklahoma ancillary probate successfully.  Good luck!

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Marsha Breazeale, M.Ed., CDOA, CPLTA

Expertise

All questions regarding division orders; ownership decimal calculations; title ownership and payer record changes (testate/intestate inheritance; deed; assignment; court order); oil and gas lease analysis for record-keeping and purposes of payment by operator or payer; pooling, horizontal wells, horizontal well allocation units; unclaimed property reporting; royalty owner relations questions. All questions concerning administration of surface land contracts and payment questions, such as for Surface Right-of-Way, Sub-Surface Right-of-Way, Easement, Surface Use Agreement. All questions regarding industry-standard and company-specific policies that affect land owners.

Experience

Sr. Staff Division Order Analyst. Certified Division Order Analyst (CDOA, National Association of Division Order Analysts) and Certified Lease Analyst (CPLTA, National Association of Professional Lease and Title Analysts) with 35 years of experience as a combination division order analyst and lease analyst in exploration and production in the oil and gas industry.

Organizations
National Assoc. of Division Order Analysts (NADOA), National Association of Division Order Analysts (NALTA), American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL), American Society of Trainers and Developers (ASTD)

Publications
"How an Oil & Gas Exploration & Production Company Operates" and "Principles of Oil & Gas Lease Analysis: Standard Clauses", Oil Patch Press; Articles in NADOA Magazine; LandFocus EDU Professional Training Manuals

Education/Credentials
B.A.in Management from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio; M.Ed. in Instructional Design from WGU Texas.

Past/Present Clients
Past 15 years: GeoSouthern Energy Corporation; Contango Oil Co./Crimson Exploration & Operating Inc.; Apache Corporation; BP America; Marathon Oil; Newfield Exploration

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