Q: My Father was contacted by East Texas land and Cattle out of Texas about a month ago regarding suspense account money..
Suspense account is for unclaimed oil money/mineral rights is in a deceased aunts name, dead since 1988. He said that my Dad and his siblings are heirs and he just sent my dad a consulting agreement that says Dad will pay this company 10% of the gross money recovered. There is a section called "Return of Records" where it states they wont reveal the where money and assets are located until he agrees to sign. It also says that if he signs hes entering into an agreement with them to prove he is one of the heirs of the money and minerals belonging to this aunt and that dad is obligated to provide proof. It says 10% but in the term/termination it says "this agreement shall terminate automatically upon completing by east texas of the services required by this agreement and upon a LUMP SUM payment to east texas for money recovered from each entity. Money may be recovered in different time periods from different companies and institutions. Should we be weary of this contract and company?
A: You do not give the name of the company, but you are right to be wary of these come-ons. All the companies making these offers that I have run into are scams. You don't need to pay anyone to locate your aunt's mineral interests and get paid. First, go to the Texas Comptroller Website and click on the "Unclaimed Property" tab. Search under all variations of your aunt's name and see if there is a record of any royalties held by the Texas Comptroller. If there is, the website will explain the procedure to claim the funds.
Secondly, go through your aunt's papers and maybe her will and see if there is any reference to the county where she may have on mineral interests. You can then use one of the online deed records websites to search under her name and see if there is a mineral deed or an oil and gas lease. Either of these will give you a legal description of the property where she owned mineral interests. You can then go to the Texas Railroad Commission GIS map and look at all wells on the property. The map will also tell you the oil company that operates each well. You can then contact each company to determine if they are holding royalties for your aunt. They will explain the procedure you need to follow to claim the funds.
Finally you can use one of the statewide case search websites (i.e., reSearch Texas) to see if there are any court cases in which funds in your aunt's name are being held in the registry of the court. This seems unlikely because these are not considered "suspensed" funds. Suspensed funds are funds held by the oil company when they don't know how to get in touch with the owner.
Unless your dad has a deed for these mineral interests from your aunt or her estate, he may need an affidavit of heirship or other curative instrument to file in the deed records where the mineral interests are located.
Hope this helps!
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