Emily, MN asked in Estate Planning, Energy, Oil and Gas and Probate for Texas

Q: My niece was in my grandma's will 30 yrs ago to receive oil lease. It was not probated. Is the will valid? Can contested

This is in Texas. She has been receiving royalties. But can it be contested by heirs since it was not probated within 4 years?

2 Lawyer Answers
Aimee Hess
Aimee Hess
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Energy, Oil & Gas Law Lawyer
  • Streetman, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: First, be aware that your niece may also be an heir of your grandmother even if the will was not probated. The oil company may have accepted a certified copy of the grandmother's will filed in the deed records or an affidavit of heirship as evidence of your niece's entitlement to royalties. Before you know whether you have a right to contest royalties paid to her, you will need to have an attorney research the deed records and also contact the oil company regarding their basis for paying royalties to the niece. Keep in mind that you should not make a claim to the oil company without having legally cognizable evidence that the niece is being paid royalties without a legitimate basis. Otherwise, you may find yourself on the receiving end of a tortious interference lawsuit!

James Tack Jr and Teri A. Walter agree with this answer

James Tack Jr
James Tack Jr
Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Oklahoma City, OK
  • Licensed in Texas

A: The niece may or may not have a valid claim to the royalties. The answer depends upon who the other heirs are and what was done with the estate 30 years ago and what has happened since then. There are exceptions to the 4-year rule. You should contact a probate attorney so she can review all of the facts and give you advice on how to proceed.

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