Real Estate: Texas/tranfing Texas mineral rights to children
QUESTION: My mother passed away in July 2012. She had a very small estate. However she did have 1/4 of the mineral rights to 320 acres, and 1/4 of the mineral rights on 90 acres of farm land in Ochiltree County Texas. My mom had 3 siblings, she was the last to pass away.So the mineral rights (1/4 each sibling has been transferred to the sibling's heirs). She did have a will, however it was not probated. She has lived North of Seattle since 1968. I have 1 brother and 1 sister that live near her in Washington State. I live in San Angelo, Texas. My sister is the executor of the estate. She has given mom's lawyer the task of transferring mom's mineral rights to us. My brother has checked with the lawyer and he seems to not know what to do. The 90 acres is leased to an oil company in Oklahoma, there is not any production on the 90 acres. I think the lawyer has contacted the Okla. oil company as well as an Okla. lawyer acquaintance for help. The 320 acres has 4 wells that were drilled in the 1960's and are not currently producing. Prior to one of mom's brothers death, he bought the wells and managed the production. At his death that ownership was transferred to his only son. Long story. Is there anything we can do to help the Washington State lawyer get the correct paper work filed?
ANSWER: To successfully vest the title to your mother's heirs either the probated will (which is not possible) or an Affidavit of Heirship can be executed and filed of record in the counties in which the mineral estate lies. An effective Affidavit of Heirship should be executed by two persons (Affiants) with personal, historical knowledge of your mother's family. The two Affiants should execute the document before a Notary Public qualified in the State in which the Affiants sign the document and record in the County as previously mentioned.
This document should contain the names and addresses of the heirs to the mineral estate so the oil and gas companies can contact you for leasing and other purposes. The Affidavit can be found in attorney template books and is a fairly simple one or two-paged document unless the attorney would like to draft his own version.
Hope this helps.
Texas Oil and Gas Attorney
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Mr. Williams,
Thanks for your help in this matter. I do have an additional question. Once the Affidavit of Heirship,is recorded in the county of record of the minerals (in this case Ochiltree county), does that filing notify the oil companies to divide the royalty payments to the heirs? In this case my sister, brother and myself, or do we have to notify the oil companies of this change. The lawyer in Washington state that my mother used for legal matters, is telling us that he was told it will cost $1000 to get the mineral rights divided between the 3 children. He seems to be completely lost as to what to do in this matter. It seems to be a simple process to me. Complete the Affidavit of Heirship in the state where my mom was a resident (Washington State)with the required information, have it notarized in Washington State and then file it with the county clerk in Ochiltree county.
The filing doesn't notify the oil company unless they send someone out there to review the files. A review doesn't happen unless your property isn't leased. If the property is leased, as your is, and in production then you are supposed to send the oil company a recorded copy of the deed/affidavit. This is the notification of the change of interest.
You can certainly have the Affidavit completed in Washington but it does still need two affiants to certify that they knew the heirship and that the affidavit correctly reflects the heirship. You can even put a single sentence on the Affidavit indicating that each of the heirs intend to share with equal interest in the estate. In this case, after the affiants have signed the document, put a space in there for each of you and your siblings to sign...even if it is as a witness.
It really is an easy task and can be completed without the assistance of an attorney if they are not willing to assist you.