Q: My deceased Father had a 1/3rd share in a mineral rights lease which was probated. The oil company won't honor lease
Who signs a lease when the owner is dead or can't be located? Does the oil company have to give the same lease to my Dads' heirs?
A: If the lease is still valid, either because it is in its primary term or has been extended into its secondary term due to production on it, then the lease is still good and the company (and your dad's heirs) must honor it. However, in such a situation, the oil company can escrow any royalties due your dad until his heirs have been properly established via probate or other title curative means.
If the lease has expired and the oil company wants to buy a new one, they will have to buy it from your dad's heirs. If they can't identify/locate them or can't work a deal with them, they can "force pool" them in Oklahoma, which is essentially the process by which the oil and gas regulatory body in Oklahoma (called the Oklahoma Corporation Commission) declares your dad's estate/heirs leased to the oil company that wants to drill a well. In such a situation, no actual lease is signed. The OCC's Pooling Order acts as the lease.
A: First of all sorry for your loss.
Your father's estate must be probated in Oklahoma even if it has already been probated in another state like Arizona. This is commonly referred to as an ancillary probate. These are fairly simple to handle. In the vast majority of cases there is no need to travel to Oklahoma. If you are being told that the the minerals are in suspense, then this is the likely issue.
Most attorneys handle such probates on a flat fee basis.
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