Q: What is the process for making the oil company to pay out the royalties owed to our branch of the family?
My great aunt died intestate with oil interests and royalties. She died a widow with no children. She had 3 sisters and one brother. Her estate was resolved and the oil interests and royalties were paid except to one branch of her heirs - her one sister who is my grandmother. My grandmother died intestate before she took her 1/4 share of the oil interests and royalties. My grandmother had 4 children. Only 1 of her children is presently alive but all of them have had children (just recently my mom and aunt died). The Oil company has refused to pay the royalties because of the list of beneficiaries. As time goes it gets more complicated because an heir will die and their children step up to inherit. What is the process to make the oil company pay out the royalties owed to the heirs in our branch of the family?
A: This is not a question that can be answered or resolved on a free online forum. You will need two Oklahoma attorneys who can help you with this - a probate attorney and an oil and gas attorney. If you would like some recommendations, write to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can send you some attorney names and contact information.
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A: In order for companies to be obligated to pay, they have to know that they are paying the correct person. The person to be paid must have "marketable title." In order to do that they must have completed probates for each of their predecessors who died while owning the minerals. In cases where the interests are very small (the dollar amount paid out), a company may choose to rely upon an affidavit of heirship. They are not obligated to rely on an affidavit unless it has been of record for 10 years and other certain requirements have been met. Although it was common wisdom in Oklahoma from "great aunts" to never sell your minerals, through the generations, they get split up to such tiny portions, that they can become valued less than the cost to transfer them. Although each situation is different, we believe that mineral owners should consider the size and value of the interest before they continue to split them up amongst their heirs. see https://robertsonwilliams.com/mineral-interest-management-for-families-101/ You should consult and oil and gas attorney to help you with this issue.
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