As a Texas oil and gas attorney, one of the things I do often, and really enjoy, is assisting people in locating oil and gas royalties due to them from old oil and gas leases signed by their ancestors. In a previous blog here, I discussed how these royalties get lost. Today I'd like to discuss how I go about determining whether you may have oil and gas royalties due to you and your family.
First, I will need to know the Texas county in which you believe your relative or ancestor owned property or minerals. In addition, if you have any written documentation regarding this ownership, I ask you to provide me with copies. Any documentation, such as an old deed, an old oil and gas lease, a will, an old tax statement, a plat, a survey, a copy of the county appraisal district map showing the land, a stub from an old royalty check, or even just an address, can be very helpful. It is certainly possible to research all counties in Texas, but since there are 254 counties in Texas, the expense would be substantial.
Next, I research the status of your relative’s ownership of the real property that may be subject to an oil and gas lease or leases. Even if you already have a legal description of the property, it is essential to make sure that your relative has not, unknown to you, conveyed or transferred the property in question to a third party, or perhaps lost the property due to delinquent taxes. If we proceed without the precise legal description of each parcel of real property, or if the legal description is inaccurate or incomplete, or if your relative has sold or lost the property or the mineral interest, the time and expense involved in further work will be wasted.
Once we have completed the real estate research, I identify any oil and gas wells that have been or are located on your relative’s property. In addition, I determine whether your relative’s lease was part of a pooling or production unit. I obtain copies of the pooling documents so that I can calculate your relative’s ownership percentage and royalty.
If a well or wells have been identified, I then perform a royalty analysis. There are three components to this analysis. First, I determine the historical production from these wells. Secondly, I use historical price data to calculate the approximate income from the production from any wells. Thirdly, I use the ownership percentage formula to determine royalties due to you and your relatives.
The final step is to assemble a package of the research and transmit this with a demand letter to the well operator and/or owner to pay royalties to you and any relative who shares ownership of the minerals with you.
Sometimes we find property owned by your ancestor that has never been put in your name. If that is the case, there are simple legal procedures to cure this situation that I will be happy to discuss with you. These procedures will both clear title to family land (so future generations won't have to face these issues) as well as clear the way to getting oil and gas royalties paid to you instead of escheated to the State of Texas!