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QUESTION: I need someone to help me with an ongoing problem with inherited mineral rights in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kentucky. I have researched and identified all holdings to the best of my knowledge but am still having trouble. I have copies of deeds and can prove ownership, yet there seems to be one problem after another collecting money and transferring ownership. Over the years I have hired attorneys and consultants and have gotten slight improvement and lots of bills. I am not young anymore and feel pressured to have all this straightened out and a clearly identifiable portfolio of my holdings to pass on to my children. Can you help me, or can you refer me to someone who can?

ANSWER: If you haven't already done so, I would simply ask the company you are trying to collect money from exactly what they need from you in order to pay you. They can probably "spell it out" for you as to the documentation they require.

If you can prove ownership sufficiently to make your title to the minerals "marketable" under the various state standards for marketability, then you should be able to just send the supporting documents to the companies who are holding money in suspense, enabling them to release the funds to you. If they don't accept your documentation as "proof" of your ownership, ask them what documents would and then get them.

In most cases, a probate of the decedent's estate will be required in order to truly have "marketable" title, so perhaps this is what they are concerned with assuming you inherited these. Oil companies like to have a probate done prior to releasing any suspended royalty payments because the final decree issued by the judge after the probate process is complete makes it "official" as to who inherits what. In most cases, just signing an affidavit of heirship won't be considered an actual conveyance and so can't be used to officially "prove" ownership, at least not prior to it being filed of record for ten years or so, in which case it may be considered "officially" conveyed to you if no one has contested the affidavit during that time.

If you acquired the mineral rights in question other than through inheritance,then of course no probate would be needed and you could simply provide the company with a copy of the deed where you got them. They may ask that you provide a "trail" of deeds from the last person they actually know owned them (i.e. one of your parents or grandparents) to you. Could be just one deed, could be several. You would probably know.  

Before I spent a whole lot of time on this I would first determine if it's "worth it". If the mineral rights are not currently producing, or in "inactive" areas, then the best thing to do might be to just include them in your will as part of the "residue" of your estate if you don't know exactly what you own. An attorney who does wills could certainly include a "residual" clause in your will that would include everything else not specifically listed, including any mineral rights you may have "missed" or not been sure of the ownership on. As long as you included the counties the minerals were in the kids could probably find them eventually if they needed to.

If you have any specific questions about your Oklahoma rights feel free to contact me through the Mineral Hub website (www.mineralhub.com). I may be able to answer some basic questions for you, and won't charge you anything for that. I did find one well you MAY have an interest in in Coal County, OK. Your name (or someone with the same name) showed up as a "respondent" to an increased density order issued in 2006 by the oil company that drilled the well. I also found an affidavit of heirship on file with the same name that was filed in Custer County, OK about ten years ago. It had to do with someone named Lorena. Don't want to get specific here on this public forum but if you contact me through the Mineral Hub I may be able to help you a bit with your Oklahoma property at least.

Hope this helps you out.
Frederick M. "Mick" Scott CMM, RPL
The Mineral Hub
www.mineralhub.com



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

QUESTION: Dear Mr. Scott,
Thank you for your reply to my question.
I am currently trying to get everything identified in Cleburne County, Arkansas.
Regarding our interests in Creek, Custer and Coal Counties, Oklahoma, all the rights we have were supposed to have been transferred to my brotherís and my names after our motherís death (her name was Lorena and the one you referred to). How could I find out? I can't remember anything about the increased density  order you referred to, in fact, I don't even know what that is.
My brother recently received a lease offer from a landman for our interest in Creek County.  My brother told him that I had equal share and he then sent me lease papers, which I just received but donít understand.  Since the landman approached my brother and didnít have my name, Iím concerned that the records were not updated as they should have been several years ago.  
One of the problems I have with all the interests we own is knowing exactly how much we are entitled to for lease money and how much for royalty. I have gotten different figures from different people and there are many thousands of dollars differences. As a result, things are on hold until someone can convince or prove something to be correct. Iím trying to understand the information in some of the NARO material but I am still confused. How could I find the correct figures?  Is there an established rule on how to figure mineral interest amount, especially on lease money? Or are there experts I could hire to help me with all this?
Beverly Merrick

Answer
The landman can likely tell you whether the records were updated to show your ownership once they finish their title examination, which they will do prior to paying you any lease bonus.

Lease bonus amounts are subjective. It's basically whatever the market will bear. If possible, check around with others in the area to see what they are being offered. You could also read my leasing tips article on the Mineral Hub website (on the "Mineral Hub News" page currently).

You could hire a landman or an oil and gas attorney to help you with all this if needed. A landman would probably be cheaper, and frankly the landman you are already dealing with on the lease may be able to help you some for free.

Hope this helps you out.
Frederick M. "Mick" Scott CMM, RPL
The Mineral Hub
www.mineralhub.com  

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Frederick M. Scott

Expertise

Oil and gas leasing, lease negotiations, how to best deal with the oil and gas companies or their representatives, buying/selling mineral rights, forced-pooling, correlative rights, deeds and conveyances, and "post-production" costs. I am most experienced with Oklahoma properties and laws, but am able to answer questions concerning other oil and gas producing states in many cases.

Experience

I am a Certified Professional Mineral Manager (CMM) certified by the National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO) in Tulsa, OK. I am also a Registered Professional Landman (RPL) with the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL). I have managed my family's oil and gas properties in Oklahoma for over 10 years and have dealt with many landmen, title analysts, attorneys and other oil and gas professionals in the process. I have written several articles which have appeared in various oil and gas industry magazines and newsletters. I have negotiated and drafted leases, prepared deeds, affidavits, and other legal instruments relating to my own minerals, as well as performed title, legal research, and curative work for same. I have acquired a good deal of knowledge on the subjects of oil and gas law, mineral appraisal, and landwork over the past ten years, and also worked as a professional landman and lease buyer for a time. I've seen the business from "both sides" and therefore feel confident I can help out most of the folks who ask questions in this forum.

Organizations
National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO); American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL)

Publications
National Association of Royalty Owners "Action Report" (ROAR); NADOA Magazine, The Mineral Hub, Landman Magazine, and several royalty owner association group's newsletters.

Education/Credentials
Certified Mineral Manager (CMM), Registered Professional Landman (RPL)

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