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Oil/Gas/inherited royalties


Dear Ms. Breazeale,

I am trustee of a Family Trust that includes mineral interests in McClain County Oklahoma that were owned by my uncle’s mother and deeded to him by his sisters in 1969, three years after his mother passed away.  I found paperwork revealing that as late as 1988, a deed was issued in her name by Southstar Energy.  In a letter dated ten months later, my uncle explained that he had been unaware of these interests.  He was asked to submit a copy of the probated will so a new division order could be processed for his signature.  I do not know if he ever did this.  If the interests had been inherited from his mother, the quit-claim deed would not have been from his sisters.  

I do not know if descriptions on Division Orders match each owner’s actual interests, or are broader in order to include other owners.  The following are descriptions I have found in his paperwork.  All refer to the same section, township and range in McClain County, OK.  As you can see, there are differences, and I do not understand why.

Quitclaim Deed from his sisters, 1969:
         SW/4 NE/4 SW/4
My uncle’s Division Order, Wells Goodall, 1988:
         E/2 NE/4 NW/4 NE/4 SW/4
His Mother’s Division Order, Wiemer Ltd: 1988          
         SE/4 SW/4

Affidavit of Heirship that was filed for the Trust, 2013
         NE/4 SW/4 NW/4 SW/4

I believe this Affidavit was based on the interests that were receiving royalties at the time of my uncle's death in 2012.
         Although the last lease I located is from 1996, royalties continue to be received from Phllips66 (Wells Goodall and Austin Lee).  I assumed that these were from the interests described on the Affidavit of Heirship, and the part that my uncle “discovered” in 1988 was included.  Now I am not sure.
On a hunch, I searched the Unclaimed Money sites in Oklahoma and Texas (where his mother lived) and found royalties that had been escheated to Texas in his mother’s name as recently as 2011 (she died in 1966). There was no address for her.  A call to Sunoco confirmed that these were also for interests in the same OK. county, section, township, and range as my uncle's.  The well had a different name however - Lewis 1-11.  A search of Oklahoma unclaimed property revealed that additional royalties have been escheated to the State of Oklahoma, but the dates are not listed and I have no other details.  This seems to indicate that either everything was not resolved back in 1989 or that there were other interests my uncle, and perhaps his sisters, were never aware of.

How do I sort this out?  Unfortunately I live in the east and cannot easily search the county records.  Online records only start in 1994, and I need to go further back.  I don’t want to hire a landman unless that is the recommendation of someone more knowledgeable than I.  Also, I would want to be sure of exactly what I would be asking him/her to do.

Thank you for any assistance you can give me.


I want to help you discover everything your uncle's mother owned in her name at the time of her death.  But to do that, I need to make sure I begin with clear and complete information.

Please look again at the legal descriptions you give in your post.  Are there any commas anywhere in any of them?  Commas are critical to Oklahoma legal descriptions.  OR, are the "calls" (parts of the legal description sitting alone on a line by itself? I need to know this before I can proceed.

A regular "section" of land in Oklahoma contains exactly 640.0 acres, in the form of a perfect square 1 mile by 1 mile in size.  That square can be divided into 4 equal parts (quartered) and each part gets its own name: NW/4, NE/4, SE/4, SW/4 (naming them clockwise from the top left corner). Each of these 4 quarter-sections contains exactly 160.0 acres (640 divided by 4 = 160).

So if a deed contains the legal description: "NW/4, NE/4, SE/4, and the SW/4" (which a deed can do for legal reasons, instead of saying "All of Section____") the legal description would be for the entire Section, 640 acres.

Also, each of these quarter-sections can be quartered again.  And again.  And again.  I've seen them as small as 2.5 acres.

So if that same legal description above leaves out the commas, it reads "NW/4 NE/4 SE/4 SW/4" which means "NW/4 of the NE/4 of the SE/4 of the SW/4".  This reduces the size of the area of land covered by the description and the number of acres attributable to it.  Starting in the SW/4 (160 acres) back up to only the NE/4 of it (160 divided by 4 = 40). That's 40 acres.  Now back up to only the NE/4 in that tract (40 divided by 4 = 10).  That's 10 acres.  Now back up to only the NW/4 of that NE/4 tiny tract (10 divided by 4 = 2.5).  That's 2.5 acres.

And if a legal description is broken up by line (as commonly done by computer programs printing division orders), the acreage and location is based on the entire "call" for a specific tract:
    E/2 NE/4 NW/4 (start in the NW/4, back up; covers 20.0 acres total)
    NE/4 SW/4 (start in the SW/4, back up; covers 40.0 acres total)

As you can see, until I know for sure if there were any commas, OR if parts of the legal description are on a separate line below the first part in the document you're looking at, I don't know for sure how to read the legal description and begin helping you with your problem.

Post a follow-up question giving me the legal descriptions exactly as you see them in the documents, and I can begin helping you and answer the other important parts of your question.  Thanks.


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Marsha Breazeale, M.Ed., CDOA, CPLTA


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.


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.

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)

"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 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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