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Oil/Gas/Intestate Mineral Rights

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Question
My mother passed away in Oregon 9 years ago.  She had a Trust and a Pour Over Will.  I discovered there are mineral rights in Montrail County, North Dakota and Pittsburg County, Oklahoma, which were never put into her will.  Though I have a brother and a sister, I am the sole beneficiary of anything she owned, as stated in her Trust.  I doubt there is enough value to probate in both states.  If I submit an affidavit of heirship, must I list all siblings (if her Trust/Will indicate I am the sole beneficiary)?  Also, I just discovered my brother filed a 'Quiet Title' in North Dakota, and he and my sister are getting part of the mineral rights proceeds.  I don't know what a Quiet Title does - is there any way to overturn it?  Thank you for your assistance.

Answer
You need to confirm this with attorneys licensed in North Dakota and Oklahoma, but as a division order analyst I could not protect my employer adequately if I transferred the N.D. and Oklahoma interests to you, your brother or your sister without either the ancillary probate of your mother's will in those states, or an Affidavit of Heirship filed for record in Montrail and Pittsburg Counties, respectively.

That said, an Affidavit of Heirship will cause distribution of the oil and gas rights owned by your mother according to the laws of descent and distribution in each of the states, and not by the terms of her will. That means that yes, any Affiant must list all of the legal children of your mother--in fact, they must answer truthfully each question in the Affidavit, fully.

A true "Quiet Title" action involves a district court in the county where the land is located.  Such a court action would not be binding unless all parties entitled to part of the ownership were properly served and they failed to respond in the time allowed that that state's laws. Again, check with an attorney on that, don't take my word. A Quiet Title Action gets the court to declare, by court order, who the current owners of a real property interest are.  But what could have happened is that your brother and sister could have "beat you to the punch" and submitted an Affidavit of Heirship to the oil company/companies that they have already filed in the Montrail deed records.

If you are certain that your brother and sister are being paid, you need to find out right away who is paying them and contact that company to assert that you are also a legal heir of your mother, in case they are being paid improperly.  Under the laws of descent and distribution, as a legal child of your mother you are entitled to your equal share of the proceeds from your mother's interest. You can also find out from the payer what type of documentation they accepted to start paying your brother and sister: a court order, or an Affidavit of Heirship. When you call, ask for the Division Order Department then ask to speak to the Division Order Analyst who handles Montrail County, N.D. Then you want to get a copy of what they were provided that caused them to start paying your brother and sister.  You might have to provide a copy of your mother's will probated in Oregon to prove you are, in fact, one of her legal heirs.

I hope this information helps. Please send me a follow-up question if you need additional assistance.

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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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